MS SQL Server Clone in VMware

Having templates and cloning VM’s can be very handy for fast deployment. Suppose that you want to deploy an instance of a sophisticated Web application consisting of different functional servers like database, web, mail, messaging, etc. It is desirable to clone the whole application, saving lots of time to configure each server and establish connectivity between them. VMware enables us to do this by using vApp templates. vApp templates are also available in vCloud Director.

However, when it comes to Microsoft SQL Server, an issue is raised when you rename the server during cloning or customize operating system in vCloud! It’s because SQL server contains some internal databases (like master) and metadata that store system name and working with SQL server in this situation will cause problems. To prevent this issue, you can do the following:

1) Enable a sysadmin SQL account (like ‘sa’) before cloning.

2) After clone, login to new SQL Server using a non-Windows sysadmin (like ‘sa’)

3) issue the following commands in a Query window:
exec sp_dropserver ‘OldserverName’
go
exec sp_addserver ‘NewServerName’, ‘LOCAL’
go

4) Restart SQL Server services

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System Administration, Cloud and Coding!

As virtualization and cloud are getting more common, deploying more and more servers is really tempting for companies because it’s easier and needs less cost.

However it brings the subject of managing servers into attention. System administrators now should find solutions to decrease the time of deployment and applying changes in configurations and fixes. Under the influence of Cloud and Virtualization, business and product owners expect quick reaction from IT department; although cloud and hypervisor infrastructures provide easy and quick ways to deploy servers but still there are many tasks that require novel ideas to be automated and here is where sort of coding and logic meets system administration.

There are some tools designed for this purpose. Web giants like Google and Amazon have long used software that automatically configures the vast collection of machines driving their online services. But as Luke Kanies (CEO and Founder of  Puppet Labs) says: “Google does [things] differently, and in many cases, they do it better. Amazon is the same way. But what’s really frustrating is that no one else can use their software, I wanted to build a tool that would help other companies solve the same problem.”

Among them, Puppet is getting more attention and recent investments from big IT groups like VMware and Cisco make it attractive for companies who use virtualization and cloud. By the way, if you are a system administrator, sooner or later you will see the need for using either Puppet or any other management and automation software. Get ready!

Microsoft Web Farm Framework Installation Tips for Windows 2008 R2

Microsoft Web Farm Framework can be very useful for system administrators, especially when they have to manage multiple web servers (IIS) in a cluster behind load balancer. It makes the task of updating web applications much easier because the only server that you need to update would be Primary server. It’s also integrated with ARR for load balancing and scaling web servers. Its installation and configuration is fairly easy but if you have Windows Server 2008 R2, you must be careful to satisfy the exact system requirements it needs. In specific, for Controller server these are important modules which should be installed:

  • Microsoft Web Platform Installer V3 (Web PI v3) AND NOT LATER VERSIONS
  • Microsoft Web Deploy v2 AND NOT LATER VERSIONS

I’m emphasizing on not installing later versions because newer versions exist on the market (actually Microsoft) but newer versions are not compatible with WFF. So, if you install Web Platform Installer 4.6 or Web Deploy 3.5 on Controller, WFF installation will fail. To get Web Platform 3 and other components, go to the following download links:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/download/details.aspx?id=6164   (Web Platform Installer)
http://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/download/details.aspx?id=25230 (Web Deploy 2)
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=27723  (Web Farm Framework)

If you have Windows 2012, your job is easier because Web Farm is kind of native feature there.

p.s – good HOW TO about using Microsoft Web Farm Framework

Introducing the Microsoft Web Farm Framework
Creating a Server Farm with the Web Farm Framework