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What is a Golden Image?

By MyCloudIT
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An image is a 'copy' of a computer's storage that is generalized to be deployed as other computers. For example, in cloud computing, this is virtual machine storage. This "image" may also be referred to as a golden image, system image, clone image, master image, Sysprep image, generalized image, or base image. It includes everything on the disk and can consist of the following:

  • Windows operating system and patches

  • Installed software and updates

  • Software settings

  • User settings (although preferably this is not in the image, this is in FSLogix or UPD)

Key advantages of using images

We believe images are essential in modern IT operations, especially where consistency and reliability are critical.

  1. Standardization: Images provide a standardized foundation for systems within an organization. This standardization helps ensure that systems are configured consistently and reduces the risk of misconfigurations and inconsistencies. This, in turn, reduces the risk of compatibility issues and system failures, leading to improved reliability and stability for end users and reduced complexity for IT staff.
  2. Streamlined Deployment: Images streamline the deployment process by providing a pre-configured and tested base image that can be quickly deployed to new systems. This reduces the time required to deploy new systems, reducing manual intervention and allowing IT staff to focus on more critical tasks.
  3. Reduce downtime and backup requirements: If configured correctly, AVD or RDS session hosts deployed with images can be considered "throw-away.” If there is a problem, deploy more VM's with the golden image where everything was working, and do not spend time investigating minor one-off Windows issues. Due to the throwaway nature of session hosts, this will reduce backup requirements.
  4. Consistent Updates: Images can be updated to ensure that systems are running the latest software and security patches and installing new software or configuring new settings for users.
  5. Improved Security: Images can be configured with best practices and standard security configurations, reducing the risk of security breaches and vulnerabilities. This ensures that systems within an organization are configured consistently, reducing the risk of misconfigurations and increasing the organization's overall security posture.
  6. Cost Savings: Images can reduce the costs associated with deploying and maintaining systems within an organization. By reducing the need for manual intervention, organizations can reduce the time and resources required to deploy and support systems, leading to cost savings. Cost is also saved from repairing issues with manually configured machines.

The MyCloudIT Azure VM image strategy

MyCloudIT has a decade of experience in testing, automating, and developing best practices for golden images so that your company can benefit from the advantages. The MyCloudIT platform has a set of automated web tools and processes for deploying a new or updated Windows image to an RDS collection or an AVD host pool. In addition, MyCloudIT supports customers in finding the best strategy for their needs and provides expert advice on imaging.

MyCloudIT leverages the inbuilt industry-standard Microsoft Azure functions. Azure has a native "managed image" feature that we use to create images that can be used within or outside the MyCloudIT platform. We have developed it, so you are never locked into one vendor's Azure tools. In addition, we leverage other Azure features that tie together with image creation, such as VM deployment from the image, session host promotion, session host cloning, and VM scripting. We advise using Microsoft Sysprep to remove system-specific information, such as the system security identifiers and the system-specific registry entries, making it possible to deploy on multiple VMs via the MyCloudIT portal.

Zero downtime image strategy

MyCloudIT image processes can be used to deploy images to session hosts with no downtime for users. There are multiple ways to achieve this. For most environments, deploy new session hosts via your customized image. The MyCloudIT portal sets all the session hosts to drain mode, and as users log off and on, they will be on the new image VMs. Once no users are left on the old session hosts, they can be turned off and eventually cleanly removed. You may have dual collection/host pools for complex environments and deploy the image to the standby one. You would then swap over the live and standby environments, and as users log off and back on, they will be active on the new live environment.


Images provide a standardized, secure, and reliable foundation for session hosts within an organization. Organizations embracing the use of golden images can expect significant benefits, including improved reliability, streamlined deployment, consistent updates, and cost savings.

If you plan to, or currently have, a Windows-based cloud session host environment with more than one session host VM, then images are a must. The MyCloudIT platform allows you to clone, manage, deploy, create, and update Windows session host images for RDS collections and AVD host pools. Contact us as an existing or new customer on how you can leverage images or AVD/RDS in general in a new or existing cloud environment today!

Tags: Microsoft Azure, Cost Optimization

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