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HI I've got a Vmware vsphere4 environment that is now running my core systems (web, mail etc) and we have been plagued over the years by a few faulty software publishes to our webserver that has then taken it out of action whilst the developers resolve the issue.

I was keen to find a way where I can take a clone of our live webserver within Vmware vsphere4, publish and test this server on the night and when we are happy swap it over with the current server. However after some searching and digging this process does not seem to be a quick, simple or even fun process.

Am i missing something or over thinking this entire process?

As so far I have this as the current process, clone the server, boot it up not connected to the Vm Network, re-configure all of the IP addresses for the box including changing the hostname. restart the vm and connect it to the network.

Publish the updated software to this server and test it.

bring down the live server for a holding page and then repeat the process in step 1 but this time putting all the ip addresses and hostnames back as they were.

Thanks for any advice

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VMware is a company, not a product. Please edit your question (and its tags) to clarify what exactly you're working with. – EEAA May 8 '12 at 15:49
@ErikA all done and updated. – Kristiaan May 8 '12 at 16:31
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Why are you cloning it every time? Typically, I handle this by cloning the production server once every 6 months or so just to keep things tidy. Then use some kind of configuration management tool like SCCM to make sure that the config for the servers stays the same. Run through your deploy process once on the test server and verify everything, then if it works, just run through it again on the production server. If you make a task for it in SCCM, you'll only have to run through the steps once.

The production server shouldn't need to be cloned every single time since it's configuration should be made to mirror that of the live server.

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While doing something like this with cloned VMs is possible, it's likely overkill.

I'd recommend the following:

  1. Bring up a load balancer in front of two (or more) webservers. Depending on how your application is written, you'd either have requests balanced between the two servers or directed to a single server.
  2. When it comes time for an upgrade, drop one server out of the load balancer's rotation, then upgrade that server.
  3. Once that server is upgraded and tested as functional, add it back into the rotation.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other server.
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