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I am part of an service company that has a server solution that hosts different field software to talk to industrial alarms and such. The original implementation didn't make use of any kind of virtualized server nor did it have any type of special backup software. We had a catastophicc failure on site a week ago and it took way longer than the original designers intended to restore the servers and their software.

All the servers have installed on them is IIS and some SQL databases. They don't do anything else.

I was thinking about changing the design to run from a virtualized server. In my mind this would have several benefits:

  • Fast and flexible recovery(virtual image is hardware agnostic and is typically a single file)
  • Simple, one click restorations are the common place

Essentially using a virtual machine seems like the best idea for disaster recovery. Is this the case?

My virtual setup was going to be windows server 2008 r2 with a Hyper V role. I was going to make the virtual server run all the service and in field software and have virtual backup software on the bare bones metal OS. Is this a good idea? Also, would the performance benefits be much better if I used a stand alone HYper V server installation instead of a Hyper V role?

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I have used such a solution for industrial controls applications and it does work well. However, some controls software companies have issues. Rockwell used to say it was unsupported but now seem to be changing their "tune". Siemens still seems to have an issue.

The use of a VM to run the development software was also very useful as often one vendor software does not get along with another. Using a VM solved that issue.

We also had good success using Symantec System Recovery to image a running system on a plant floor and move the install to new hardware. Saved much time reinstalling and a swap was done in minimal time. Usually just the time it took to remove old hardware and replace with new. Plant maintenance folks liked it at several clients. System Recovery would also convert to a VM at the same time it made the image so allowed the VM to be ready as a disaster recovery. Note there is a version for Server and Desktop OSs.

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So you agree that having a ritualized server environment rather than bare metal os? –  CraigXkjs Apr 14 '13 at 16:12
    
Yes- as long as the engineering department is OK and the software running in the VM has vendor support. One client refused as the software (Siemens) would have no support if run in a VM. However, we did run it successfully as a demo. –  Dave M Apr 14 '13 at 20:42
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