We SYSPREPed the image and packaged it up and moved it along to the ESX server admin. They loaded it up and we were going to change the machine name via script to something much more functional than the randomized name that SYSPREP generates. However when running the script (which also renames the AD machine account - nifty) it was failing, with a generic error of 1706.
Let the troubleshooting begin...
Upon further research Group Policy was not working because the VMware machine would not hit the SYSVOL on the domain controller. However, when logged into the VMware machine we could ping other nodes on the network, but we could not use file sharing at all. Admins shares, manual shares, nothing anywhere. (Including SYSVOL on the DCs). Strange. Yet, all other resources on the network could reach THIS machines file shares just fine. Research on that topic turns up a lot of other issues which did not apply to this situation many related to the DCs and group policy. Not applicable.
Ask a couple coworkers for thoughts and we jump back to basics and try to disjoin from the domain. Well once disjoined, it would not rejoin to the domain. We received the error message,
The endpoint format is invalid.
Couple of searches later we stumbled upon the following thread on the VMware forums,
Win2003 VM’s will not join domain.
Once the VMware tools were removed, the machine rebooted we were able to join the machine to the domain again and file sharing resumed normal application along with Group Policy application. We still have to test the rename script on the updated core image, but I am optimistic regarding those results.