Base Image for Servers in Virtualized Domain


I am not using images or snapshots as a backup method. What I am trying to determine is creating a base image for the VM Host server, Storage Server, and PDC. After the initial setup of the server, before VM's are installed, etc. I want to take a base image of the server. What this will allow is if the server crashes, I can install the OS with the Base Image. Rather than having to install the OS, reconfigure roles, reconfigure drivers, etc. Is this best practice? Or am I better off just manually reinstalling the OS and all configurations?

I will have daily/weekly/monthly backups in place to backup VHD's, DB Files, etc.

Thank you,
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Why not create a golden master template with all the updates applied, and make sure it's updated every Patch Tuesday.

this is what we do.
StuartTechnical Architect - CloudCommented:
If the server 'crashes' then use your backup.. I don't understand why you would rebuild the server and reinstall roles.

What are you using for your backup solution?
StuartTechnical Architect - CloudCommented:
For the base image I agree with Andrew - this is a pretty common practice. This coupled with detailed build documentation for your services will help if you get in a real pickle
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Matthew CosentinoCommented:
Hey Shepp_IT,

If you're too small to bother with images, but do have some kind of VM protection in place already, you can simply backup the host "System State" using the inbuilt WIndows Backup.  

Just be careful; I'm not sure if you're not doing a VM backup and a "System State" on the host wont recover your VMs, and will be extra work during a restore.

The 2008 R2 system state recovery process is here Sorry I couldn't find the 2012 process, but it would be very similar. Bare in mind you must build the server first, then recover the system state.

Let us know how you go. Sounds like there might be more to consider.

shepp_itAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the information everyone, I do have some options to consider and I am looking into what products or utilities are available to accomplish this.

I was looking into the option of using Windows Server Backup within Windows Server 2012R2 (Host NOS) to create some bare metal images. From the research I have done, this seems to be the software solution that best fits my needs. Has anyone used this software?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, we used it, but I would not use it to create images. But if that is all you have, remember you will need the same hardware to restore the image to!

Are you not using Virtual servers ?
shepp_itAuthor Commented:
We will be running VM's on the Host. However, I would take the bare metal before any VM's are installed. This isn't my backup solution, we have a product from CAARCserve that we use for backups.

What I am looking to accomplish is create a Disaster Recovery type of image, if that server crashed and I needed to bring in a brand new server, I would load that image onto the brand new server. This would save time since I wouldn't have to spend days installing the NOS, configuring the NOS, etc. Am I thinking about this the wrong way?

Can you elaborate why you wouldn't use the built in Microsoft Backup Server tool for images? Have you had issues using the images when using Server 2012R2 to create them? I am more curious if anything.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
So this is DR for failed host ?

Your backup of the server will only work, on a like for like server?

if you have to deploy to different hardware with different storage controller, it will fail.

How long does it take you to install a new OS , and then configure before you enable Hyper-V and Add VMs ?

Understanding what you are now trying to do

1. backup is wasted time.
2. restore is wasted time.

A manual re-installation only takes me 7-11 minutes, and then the longest time is applying Windows patches, Adding Roles is quick, no need for drivers, with the HP, IBM, DELL servers with use.

At a push, I think I could get a Hyper-V host backup and running within 1-2 hours, with good documentation, so a Windows Backup and Restore.....possibly wasted. As you could just redo an manual installation.

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shepp_itAuthor Commented:
Correct, this would be a DR image for the Host server, and the other physical servers.

I haven't installed a new OS and enabled hyper-v and added VM's. However, other server builds I have done take a matter of hours to fully complete (from bare metal to operational on the domain).

With your information in mind Andrew, I would scrap the image idea. What about backups to the VM's? I will just take backup copies of the VM's and the VHD's, in a DR situation, rebuild the servers and restore the backup's for VM/VHD's?

Thank you.
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Windows Server 2012

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