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Disaster recovery with PowerConvert flexible images

PlateSpin's PowerConvert enables creation server images, which can be a central disaster recovery tool. This step-by-step tip outlines how to create flexible images.

PlateSpin PowerConvert is known for its ability to convert physical machines to virtual machines (VMs) and vice versa. But PowerConvert also has the ability to create flexible images of physical and virtual servers. In this tip we'll cover how to set up such a flexible image.

Creating an imaging server
Working with flexible images offers major benefits. If you have an image that is synchronized with an actual server, it will allow you to re-install the server based on that image easily. This is useful if anything should go wrong with your server and, better yet, provides a basic disaster recovery option.

To configure PowerConvert for server imaging, you will need to set up an imaging server. Although you certainly can, you don't have to run the imaging server on the PowerConvert server. You can use another Windows server for this purpose. The imaging server can be a Windows 2000 or 2003 Server, or even a Windows XP workstation. The only real requirement here is a large amount of available disk space.

To set up an imaging server, you need to work from the discovered servers overview. Right click the server you want to use as the imaging server and select the Install Image Server option. Next, provide the authentication details for the server by using either the servername/username convention or the domainname/username convention and then tell the program where it should create the image files. Next, click Install to configure your server as an imaging server.

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Capturing Flexible Images and how to use them
Once the imaging server has been configured, there are three different things that you can do with it: Capture an image of an existing server, deploy an image to a server in a disaster recovery scenario or import an image that was made with another program such as Altiris. You can do this for physical machines as well as virtual machines.

  1. From the PowerConvert client, select the Capture Image option from the tasks pane. This opens a window in which you can specify which server you want to take the image from.

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  3. Click the Start Wizard button to start the imaging wizard that will ask you for all of the settings that it should use in creating the image. The wizard will prompt you for the information that it needs to complete all of the steps in the procedure. First, it asks for authentication details that are required to connect to both the source server and the image server.

  4. The default method to create an image is the "Take Control" method. This requires your server to reboot in order to accept the image. Only a select amount of operating systems (OSes) support a live migration scenario where the image is created without shutting down the server. If you want to perform a live migration, make sure that your Windows server has NTFS partitions only. Even if you just have a FAT partition that enables you to restore your system easily, you won't be able to perform a live migration. To perform the "Take Control" conversion you need to provide a temporary IP address for the server. It's a good idea to indicate that you want to use a DHCP-assigned IP address. After all, it is for temporary use only.

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  6. Next, you need to specify the disk sizes that you want to use. When creating the image compression is applied automatically, which means that you will almost always end up with less disk space than the actual disk size.

  7. Finally, click Start to begin the imaging process. PowerConvert will now connect to your server and create the image. Once completed, you will see the images added to your image server.

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An image file of your server can be very useful if you're having problems with a server. Based on an image file, it's easy to restore the original state of the server. PowerConvert allows you to do this rather easily. Even more noteworthy is if your server uses supported file systems only, you don't even have to take your server down to create the image.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sander van Vugt is an author and independent technical trainer, specializing in Linux since 1994. Vugt is also a technical consultant for high-availability (HA) clustering and performance optimization, as well as an expert on SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED 10) administration.

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