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IIS and AppPool Replication in a Workgroup

Posted on 2005-04-12
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Greetings Experts.

We are currently load balancing two web servers using F5's Big IP.  Everything is working fine however we frequently update and add new virtual directories and it's a major pain to copy the data and settings from one web server to the other (double the work... Actually tripple when you consider our failover site).

In additon, each virtual directory uses a unique AppPool and User for process separation and usage tracking.

My question is this:  Can we replicate our IIS settings including AppPools from one machine to the other somehow and what would be the best way to do this in a workgroup environment?

The research I've done on EE has suggested IISCnfg and RoboCopy might work (we could write a batch program and run it after we update one web server) but will IISCNFG copy the AppPool data?  It probably wouldn't copy the users, so we'd have to create them manually on the "remote Machine".

I've also seen DFS as an option, but I can't seem to figure out how to force replication in a workgroup environment.

Is there another option without having to purchase a third party software or put our web servers in a domain?

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:beckabob2003
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Expert Comment

by:Dave_Dietz
ID: 13767733
IISCNFG will copy Application pools.

You are correct in assuming you will need to manage the user accounts manually.

RoboCopy will work well for content replication.  DFS isn't really an option since you're not in a domain environment.

Out of curiosity, is there any reason you don't want to set up your webservers in a domain to ease replication between them?
You could set them up in a domain of their own if it is a security issue you are concerned about.

Dave Dietz

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Author Comment

by:beckabob2003
ID: 13768917
Hi Dave and thanks for the response.

I tried RoboCopy and IISCNFG and I'm getting some good results.  However If I use IISCnfg to copy from Web A to Web B, and then configure the identity of the APPPools on B to use local users.  If I run IISCnfg again, it overwrites the AppPool settings, setting the users back to webA/AppUser.

Is there any way around this?

As for not using AD...  The app was originally set up this way for security reasons and at the time we weren't using individual AppPools so it really wasn't an issue.  I agree AD would be a lot simpler and I am trying to push it.

How would I set up an AD Web Server cluster?  Is it easier then SQL Clustering?

Thanks again
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Author Comment

by:beckabob2003
ID: 13772227
OH something else I thought of...  What advantage would a Web Cluster have over using IISCnfg in a domain?  We don't have to worry about real time replication, so is it worth the effort of creating a Web Cluster?  If it's easy to do, then I guess why not eh?

Thanks
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Author Comment

by:beckabob2003
ID: 13861849
Does anyone have any followups?
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Accepted Solution

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Dave_Dietz earned 1000 total points
ID: 13862731
If by WebCluster you mean setting up two Servers in a failover cluster configuration to serve IIS functions there really isn't any advantage - you would still need to use IISCNFG to replicate Metabase information between the servers.  The Metabase stays local to each server and has to be kept in sync to maintain proper functionality.

On the down side you only have one active server so you only utilize half of the hardware and you can't scale out like you can with load balancing.

The only plus side is that you can store your *content* on the shared drive and not have to worry about replication of the content between the servers.  Of course, if the shared drive fails you're out of luck while one server in a load balanced farm failing doesn't cause you site to be completely unavailable.  (From experience I can tell you that dropping in a replacement server in a farm is a *lot* easier than rebuilding a cluster....)

Dave Dietz
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Author Comment

by:beckabob2003
ID: 14073817
Sorry Experts.  For some reason my mail server was listing Experts Exchange notifications as Spam.  I didn't realize Dave had answered my question.

Thanks for the Help Dave!  I think we'll do Non-cluster replication.  We'll make all changes on one webserver and run a batch file to push all the settings over to the other side.  We're using F5 for load balancing, and we have to configure custom app pools for each web site, so even in a cluster, we'll still have to use  IISCFG anyway.  Like you said dave,  Dropping in a new box is a lot easier then rebuilding the cluster.

Thanks again and sorry for the delay!
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