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Server Restore

By Rabbit_Runner ·
We have several servers which we are responsibile for. Two of them are production, and four others are test bed servers. I'm on the team responsible for the Server Boxes, and OS (Win 2003). Another team works on the applications, which include MS SQL, and Oracle.

Okay, the test bed servers are used for testing various patches, configurations, application settings, etc.

Anyway, from time to time (once every month or two) we are called upon to either rebuild the box or to do a restore from our daily and weekly backups.

What the Application team is wanting to do, is to have the ability to restore a server to a particular date or state, usually within the past week or two.

At the moment to do this we may do a quick OS install and then push a backup to the box to bring it to the state that the developers want.

Problem this takes time and the developers team want to find a way to do this faster. One suggestion was to use Ghost. but the problem with this is that it does not support RAID5

So what suggestions or solutions are being used and why would you recommend it? We want something to be fast and not Tooooo expensive. Space to store images, or backups are not a problem. Symantec Volume Manager has been eliminated. Are there any other suggestions?

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by w2ktechman In reply to Server Restore

Have you tried the volume shadow copy service?

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by Rabbit_Runner In reply to

Thanks for your help. But I don't believe this will meet the requirements or satisfy the customer.

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by cuziyq In reply to Server Restore

If you are open to 3rd party solutions, you can use VMware. VMware was designed with exactly this kind of scenario in mind. You can deploy a virtual server on a physical box and have your Application team connect to it instead. Virtual servers are nearly as fast, and don't care about RAIDs.

After you do a fresh install of the OS on the virtual server, you can create a snapshot file. When your Application team requests another reload, you can just revert back to the snapshot.

The downside to this solution is cost. VMware GSX Server retails for $1400. You can buy the Workstation edition for less than $200 (which will run on a server), but it only supports 1 CPU and there is a limit to the number of virtual servers you can run at a time. Additionally, you have to license the virtual server's software just as if it were a physical box. The good news is that you can download a fully functional evaluation from their web site for free to see if it will suit your needs.

On the other hand, for a (very) dirty (but free) solution, use the Linux DD command to make a 1:1 clone the RAID. When you need to reload the server, just clone it back to the array. Unlike Ghost, DD makes a block-for-block mirror image regardless of the actual data. As long as the RAID controller is supported by the kernel and presents the array as a single logical device, you can use a "Live CD" version of Linux such as Knoppix so you don't actually have to install Linux on the server. I have used this method to clone machines before. It's a pain in the arse, but if you're comfortable with Linux, it's faster than restoring a backup. A single command (i.e. "dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/hda1 bs=512" should do the trick. The only caveat is that you need an ATA drive or another array that is at least the same size, and the resulting file can only be restored to an identical server with an identically configured array setup.

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by Rabbit_Runner In reply to

Interesting ideas. Thanks for the thoughts. The VMware would be prohibitive in our situation but the idea could be utilized in other circumstances. About the Linux DD command; it would have to be run over the network because of our security settings. We do not have any ATA devices allowed in our server farm. Nor do we have any CD writable devices. Again security precautions.

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by Rabbit_Runner In reply to Server Restore

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