I'm having trouble with some VMware VM problems. Short story, how can I deploy a Windows server 2008 R2 server image to a lab environment with snapshots without MAC issues.

Long story, I have a 2008 R2 image that we are going to be using for a class on Deploying Web Servers. In our current image, server 2003, we have to install IIS every class period. And we have to do some annoying things like going and getting the most recent FTP from the web annd installing it manually separately. We tried making a 2008 R2 image with just the plain VM (things like vmware tools all updated, chrome installed so we don't have to deal with the internet explorer security settings, adapter already set to bridged.....) and the problem is that we are hitting issues with the MAC address all being the same when we restore a snapshot. Now, naturally, we had everyone hit "I copied it" which normally changes the MAC and some other things to prevent this specific type of problem, but when we load a snapshot it seems to load the old mac back in. Maybe this is the built in functionality, but it's rather annoying for me. I am looking for a way to deploy this (or at least a similar image, preferably with the IIS already installed snapshot) to three labs of 30 computers each.

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  • Just to head off inquiries, I posted this in NE to try and help me figure out the issue of all of the VM snapshots having the same MAC. I tried to find some kind of "virtualization" SE, but couldn't find anything properly related. So I went with the networking issue and you guys – PsychoData Sep 21 '13 at 4:53
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    You should be deploying from a host template or clone and not a snapshot. By the way, I'm sure this is off-topic, but I'll let our moderator pro tem's weigh in. Doesn't ServerFault deal with this topic? – generalnetworkerror Sep 21 '13 at 9:15
  • @generalnetworkerror care to give a better explanation of that – PsychoData Sep 22 '13 at 23:34
  • In vSphere, a snapshot cannot be used used to create another VM as it's just a point-in-time marker of the vDisks to allow a rollback. Either a new VM is deployed from a VM template that was created or an existing VM is used to clone. When we do either of these operations, we don't get duplicate MAC addresses. – generalnetworkerror Sep 23 '13 at 6:37
  • So, is my understanding correct that a VM template would be a set of settings for a VM. memory, disk disk.... and a clone would be a copy of a VM? So could I make a VM with a snapshot and then clone it? – PsychoData Sep 23 '13 at 14:00

Snapshots and restores should not be used here as snapshot is a point-in-time marker of the disks for rollback.

For your solution, a template should be created. In fact, I'm going to suggest two templates as follows:

  1. Template 1 - Generic Windows 2008 R2 Server
  2. Template 2 - Web-Servers-Class

Your first template should be just the base O/S installation. Nothing else. Re-use is key here. You'll then create a VM from your O/S base template (#1), then add everything you need for the web-server class baseline. Convert that VM into a template (#2).

Now, whenever you need fresh web servers for class with unique MAC addresses -- which are issued when you deploy from a template (or clone) -- you'll then choose the Deploy from Template option on the template (#2). Use the O/S customization wizard to update the VM name so it doesn't conflict with the template and you won't have to update the IP addr if you already had DHCP configured in the template.

Cloning is another option to create a new VM with a different MAC addresses, but it's going to be identical to the state of the VM you clone from. If you really need a clean baseline, then the template option is the way to go. You could still use cloning, but you'll have a regular VM with your baseline that you don't touch.

  • So a template isnt just the hardware specs, it also the OS and some basic configuration. If I wanted to have the ability to switch between Plain 2008R2 and 2008R2 with IIS preinstalled, I would either have to deploy all my images to each computer (over a weekend while unfrozen). Either one w/ IIS installed and one image without OR I should deploy my 2008R2 image (still unfrozen scenario of course), Open it on every computer, selecting copied (to make sure of no MAC problems), install IIS, then take a snapshot on each workstation. – PsychoData Sep 24 '13 at 17:26
  • @PsychoData: That would be one template for plain 2008R2 -- that was template 1 in my answer -- and another templated for 2008R2 w/IIS -- template 2 in my answer. What version of ESX are you running and do you have a license (and what type)? – generalnetworkerror Sep 24 '13 at 19:56
  • I'm not certain off hand (I'm a lab assistant) but I do know we are a VMWare Academy, so we can pretty much download whatever version of vsphere, esx, or workstation we please. But these labs only have VMware Workstation on them. Not ESX for these. We also have VSphere, but when 30-60 students at a time are using VMs, it really bogs down and the network cant handle it. 20-25 no problem, but 40-60 gives horrible performance. – PsychoData Sep 24 '13 at 20:46

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