Cloning isolated VMs vs. scripted installation
One of the challenges we’ve always faced with SharePoint development has been the tension between cloning actually identical environments versus automating the deployment across distinct environments (or worse, repeating the installation manually). In the first case we save time by eliminating reconfiguration and this ensures a consistent experience for each user. This is particularly beneficial for software development. These benefits can also be obtained by scripting installation/configuration/deployment but there’s a considerable overhead associated with developing and testing those scripts. As SharePoint 2010 is still quite new and we’ve been working on projects for some time now, we didn’t have the luxury of waiting for those refinements and we needed to take advantage of these efficiencies as we had done with SharePoint 2007 projects.