iCan Blog Archive

In a Windows server environment, it’s normal to have a need to quickly create another Windows server to be used for a new application or even as a backup system to test the latest service pack without interfering with your production server. The problem though is creating multiple servers from scratch gets tedious when needing to install additional device drivers, service packs and common applications after the operating system is installed. But with a recent new-function PTF, support for cloning integrated Windows servers is possible.

An easy-to-use GUI Wizard duplicates an existing iSCSI based Windows 2003 or Windows 2008 server by copying the network server description (NWSD), network server storage (NWSSTG), virtual Ethernet line descriptions, and then makes them ready for that first activation. This support was added to IBM i 7.1 in December 2010, and IBM i 6.1 in May 2011.

Although it’s possible to duplicate a single server for test purposes, the primary reason cloning support was added was for rapid server deployment where multiple blades or System x servers are designated for Windows server installations. The first task in creating servers based on an existing server is to ensure your base server is ready to be cloned. This means your server is fully installed with a supported Windows server operating system, latest service packs and any applications that are needed on the clone servers. Once the base server is ready to be cloned, a Windows tool named “SYSPREP” is used to remove server specific information such as log files and license key information and prepares it for a first-time run welcome experience. Information on how to access SYSPREP on Windows 2003 or Windows 2008 is available from the following link: http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/toolsctr/v1r0/index.jsp?topic=%2Fdpsccm%2Fdpsccm_t_running_sysprep.html

The SYSPREP command suggested for the integrated server environment should be run as follows to prepare the cloned server to run the mini out of box experience when first started.

  • Windows 2003:  SYSPREP -reseal -mini
  • Windows 2008:  SYSPREP /generalize /oobe

After SYSPREP has been run, shut down the server and start making as many copies as needed. To start the server cloning wizard, use the Web GUI, select Create Server task and select the Base on an existing object option and specify the NWSD name of the server to be cloned as well as the name of the new server. Continue through the wizard to copy the storage, specify a compatible remote system, and then click Finish on the Summary page. The progress bar will show that status of the creation process, which will take some time duplicating large storage spaces.

The clone server is created with the same properties as the base server with one exception. The virtual Ethernet point-to-point connection for the clone server will have a different TCP/IP interface on IBM i and will need to be manually set on Windows once the server is activated to be in the same subnet.

For detailed instructions on the entire cloning process and using the integrated server cloning wizard, see the section titled “Server cloning road map and checklist” in the IBM i iSCSI Solutions Guide. 

The required PTFs for this support are as follows.

  • IBM i 6.1 PTF SI43599 and WebNav GUI service pack PTFs (WSP8)
    or IBM I integration with BladeCenter and System x Group PTF SF99357 Level 20.
  • IBM i 7.1 PTFs SI41049, SI41817 and WebNav GUI service pack PTFs (WSP3)
    or IBM I integration with BladeCenter and System x Group PTF SF99369 Level 4.

I’d like to thank Thom Haze from the Integrated Server Development team for writing this blog article.

This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.