If you install a lot of servers, you are probably aware of a tool called Sysprep, that is used to take an windows installation and remove all specific information related to servername, SID’s and so on. That allows you to take a snapshot of that image, and replicate it to many servers, and only have to run a shourt setup to type in the information specific to the particular server you are installing. That saves a lot of time during installation.
It has been possible to ”Sysprep” an installation of SQL Server for some time (Read more here), but not all features. Starting with SQL Server 2012 ServicePack 1 Cumulative Update 2, sysprep support in now extended to all features and tools. Just about the only thing that is not supported, is failover clustering.
The process starts with installing Windows (obviously), and then installing a slipstreamed SQL Server SP1 CU2. Slipstreaming is not done by means of the Product Update feature of the setup program (Read more here). But instead of doing a normal install, you go to the Advanced tab, and select ”Image preparation of a stand-alone instance of SQL Server” That will install SQL Server binaries, but not do any configuration. Then you sysprep your server. Now you have a template that you can use and reuse. After installing the template on a server, and completing the Windows mini setup, you can move on to configure SQL Server. This is easily done by clicking on a shortcut in the Start menu specifically made for that purpose, and entering the configuration details.
If you install a lot of SQL Servers, this can save you quite a lot of time.