Q: I've configured a virtual machine template in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 to install roles, features, and applications--however, they're not applied when I apply the template, why?

A. System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager allows a lot of customization as part of virtual machine (VM) templates. These can include the following:

  • Specifying answer files
  • RunOnce commands
  • Adding Roles and Features
  • Application configurations such as running scripts, SQL Server data-tier applications, virtual applications, and web applications

All of those customizations except for the answer file apply only if the VM is part of a Service Template. It's possible to have a single VM service template in VMM, which would be a way to utilize this functionality even if you don't want multi-tiered services. If you absolutely don't want to use service templates, then you could try the following:

  • Use the answer file to perform all the customization
  • Use a Windows PowerShell script or service such as System Center Orchestrator to perform customization after deployment

Note that for Linux VM templates, the RunOnce commands are used even outside of a Service Template.