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MIS Systems Thread, SIMs Redundancy options in Technical; GATT, I have exactly the same situation with my internet connection when the county supplier messes up (frequent) I end ...
  1. #16
    soapyfish's Avatar
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    GATT,

    I have exactly the same situation with my internet connection when the county supplier messes up (frequent) I end up being their firewall :-(

    I am just glad they do not manage my SIMs as well !

  2. #17
    soapyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gatt View Post
    Im wondering about setting up a 2nd server then trying to mirror the sql database over onto it and using rsync or a similar tool to copy the file structure across..
    I thinkt that is what Knount was sugesting it sounds like it might be a plan if I can do it without taking the DB offline which I think I can do with the dbattah program...it might mess up the users passwords doing it this way but thats not such a huge issue

  3. #18

    Gatt's Avatar
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    Might take a look into Mirroring SQL 2005 at some point
    Will need a couple of spare boxes to test it first though!

  4. #19

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    Why not use the built in replication features of SQL server just set the backup server as a replication subscriber to your primary server and set it to transactional replication which will keep it up to date as the data changes.

    SQL Server Replication
    How to Configure SQL Server Site Database Replication

    Given that it is a simple one way replication handled entirely in the background by SQL it should not cause any issues with the SIMS software and so hopefully they would still support it.

  5. 3 Thanks to SYNACK:

    Gatt (12th February 2009), kmount (12th February 2009), soapyfish (12th February 2009)

  6. #20
    soapyfish's Avatar
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    I in all honesty was not aware that it was able to do so ! i will look into that asap thankyou maybe I can do this over a cross over cable so the backup server is only avalialbe for that purpose (all the servers have 2x NICs)

  7. #21

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    I think soon enough, we will be testing the "live transfer" option with vmware, so that if for example the physical server breaks we can just get the virtual machine transfered on another server very quickly. when we had a problem a few months ago.. believe it or not we had sims running of a laptop while the server was being repaired

    I know you can do a live sync with another server, i dont know weather it would work with SIMS but i suppose its work a try.

    (appologies about some of the words, i cant think of the correct words at the moment lol)

    James.

  8. #22
    soapyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EduTech View Post
    I think soon enough, we will be testing the "live transfer" option with vmware, so that if for example the physical server breaks we can just get the virtual machine transfered on another server very quickly. when we had a problem a few months ago.. believe it or not we had sims running of a laptop while the server was being repaired

    I know you can do a live sync with another server, i dont know weather it would work with SIMS but i suppose its work a try.

    (appologies about some of the words, i cant think of the correct words at the moment lol)

    James.

    I would be very inetested in the success or failure of the live transfer when you do it. if its successful maybe I cen get funds for such an arrangement. Pm me to let me know if thats cool

  9. #23


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    I didn't even think of using replication but yes, this would be the best way in my opinion moving forward also.

    If you did this, and maintained a synchronised copy of the S:\SIMS directory you would literally need to just redirect the S drive in however your clients pick it up currently (login script or so) and reboot to be back up.

  10. #24

    EduTech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmount View Post
    I didn't even think of using replication but yes, this would be the best way in my opinion moving forward also.

    If you did this, and maintained a synchronised copy of the S:\SIMS directory you would literally need to just redirect the S drive in however your clients pick it up currently (login script or so) and reboot to be back up.
    No Problem, i will let you know how i get on aswell as everyone else.

    Its something i will be looking at in the next few weeks, going through the procedure.. and giving it a whirl.

    Back up my VM ofcourse - Watch this space

    James.

  11. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by soapyfish View Post
    Hi I was wondering what mehods people use to make SIMs redundant/failover
    I am currently running 1 sims server which is backed up every night to a DLT drive and the tape from the previous nights backup is taken off site.

    I contacted capita today and was told that they are developing a redundant/failover system but it will be "some time" until its avaliable.

    The best option I can think of that will not compromise my support contract is to purchase another server with a DLT drive and configure it with SQL2005 standard and SIMs and should a failure occur with the live server use the most recent backup tape to restore the SIMs.mdf and .ldf etc to the new server.

    My problem with this arrangement is that It will take 4 hours + to restore.
    assuming it fails during the working day. I would dearly like to have some kind of failover so that if the server fails the user will notice no loss of service giving me time to repair/replace the dead server while running from the hot spare.

    Is anyone running such a system while still recieving support from Capita ?

    The motivation for this is that we are nearing a time where parents will be able to view attendance data and acheivement data from SIMs via our VLE and as the VLE reads the data from SIMs I would like it to be as robust as possible...

    Maybe I am asking too much !
    To get back up and running after a server failing, could be a little as 10 mins.

    Have a machine that is capable of running a virtual machine. Create an image and update the image's sims setup folder after every sims upgrade.

    Have a local backup of the sims.mdf and sims.ldf or a .bak file updated every night.

    If your primary server fails, boot up the virtual image attach the database and edit your dns setting and sims is back up and running.

    Keep virtual server running until primary server back up and then once it is copy the sims database back over to the primary server at the end of the day.

  12. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by soapyfish View Post
    Hi I was wondering what mehods people use to make SIMs redundant/failover
    All our other servers handle redundancy by being run as virtual machines and using DRBD to mirror disk volumes accross the network. The DRBD documentation reckons you can transfer between servers in under a second, although I haven't tried turning a server off to test it. From what I understand you'll need to have both servers licensed for Windows (and probably SQL server) to mirror a copy between two, even if you don't actually run one of those copies. Commercial software licenses suck, don't they?

    --
    David Hicks

  13. #27

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    I'm surprised no one's suggested RAID1. Two hard disks mirroring each other (for those that do not know), so if one drive fails, the other takes over until you replace the faulty drive. This actually happened at one of my schools a few months ago. It saves a lot of time/hassle and is a very cost effective way of providing redundancy.

    Ideally hardware RAID is recommend, however Windows Server 2003 (which I suspect most people will be running) supports software RAID.

  14. #28
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    SQL Server's device files are always open so tricky to backup. Live/Standby server copying of databases is usually done by dumping and loading log backup files very regularly. This would be entirly possible with SIMS. Obviously theres more to it - your application files and services would need to exist on both servers and the clients would need to be repointed or the name/fixed IP of the standby server changed to take over from the live box in case of a handover. Indeed even the SQL logins would need to be fixed to allow users access to the standby server. There are ways of having database updates replicate to additional servers and clever techniques of sharing remote storage between different live servers but not terribly appropriate to school budgets or supported by the way SIMS is coded to talk to SQL server.

  15. #29


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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I'm surprised no one's suggested RAID1. Two hard disks mirroring each other (for those that do not know), so if one drive fails, the other takes over until you replace the faulty drive. This actually happened at one of my schools a few months ago. It saves a lot of time/hassle and is a very cost effective way of providing redundancy.

    Ideally hardware RAID is recommend, however Windows Server 2003 (which I suspect most people will be running) supports software RAID.
    I'd been thinking further outside of the box should there have been a software failure (windows being itself...) which would have been replicated.

  16. #30
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    Our SIMS server is virtualised, and we take several snapshots a day. There is also a Disaster Recovery rack that is part of the VMWare farm and is capable of running all the core servers if necessary. There is a mirrored NetApp in this rack which takes our primary snapshot (for disaster purposes) at 1am every day.

    This covers all the requirements for us, but it wasn't exactly cheap - to be fair though, the solution was really a business continuity plan primarily.

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