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I imagine if I could get 2 identical machines, I could make the backup machine to clone the HD contents of the master one, so when the last is down the former could, with the help of a load balancer, to keep the services alive with no need to update it manually.

My current setup requires me to update applications in both servers manually, and I want to do it in only one.

As a partial answer to this question I have imagined 3 scenarios where it would be possible:

  1. Cloud: 1 storage + VMs, when you update the storage all VMs can fetch the new image
  2. Physical machines + Storage: A app updates the applications fetching from a central repository
  3. Physical machines: A app updates the applications fetching from another machine

My current setup would allow me only the 3rd scenario. Is there any Windows feature that would help me with that?

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You must mean just to clone a data partition or directory, yes? Because if you have 2 machines with the exact same configuration you're going to probably have a couple issues :-) –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 27 '10 at 12:43

2 Answers 2

The real cloning could be done by either clustering the hosts (will require a shared storage) or by using one the the storeless cluster technologies, WanSyncHA, DoubleTake and NeverFail to name a few. The latter will also not actually require you have the exact same hardware, and wil also allow you to spread the hosts geographically, so even if one datacenter is nuked, the second host will live on.

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It doesn't necessarily require shared storage. DRBD or another clustering file system can automagically clone data over IP to another hard disk. I liked that solution just because it removes a single point of failure in the storage device, but at the cost of complication and overhead in the copying of data (and split brain situations). –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 27 '10 at 12:51
    
I wasn't aware of DRBD for windows actually. The list of software I suggested does the same thing as DRBD and more, but those are Windows specific solutions. –  dyasny Jan 27 '10 at 12:55

Although not really a cloud and dyasny has a good suggestion there (currently the only other answer I see here), you could get two machines and use VMWare to enable live migration, which sounds like it would achieve sort of what you're looking for. Expensive in my view but that depends on your application and needs. The full suite offers a number of redundancy and backup features if you have the hardware and licenses.

There are other solutions similar to this that may achieve that for less...proxmox virtual environment is one, or Xenserver for a commercial alternative.

Strong influence on your decision is the tradeoff of virtualization overhead and hardware/licensing cost vs. performance of the application you are using.

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