Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cloning Virtual Domain Controllers

A new feature of Windows Server 2012 is the cloning of Domain Controllers. This is a rapid way to deploy new Domain Controllers in virtual machine forms. The detailed step-by-step is outlined in Virtual Domain Controller Cloning in Windows Server 2012. I won't attempt to repeat all the details. Hence, I would summarize the steps for easy reference later.

Prerequisite Check:
  1. The hypervisor must support VM-GenerationID. Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2012/Windows 8 supports this feature and so do VMWare vSphere 5.x.  
  2. The source virtual DC must be running Windows Server 2012. 
  3. The PDC emulator role holder must be online and available to the cloned DC and must be running Windows Server 2012.
Step 1: Add source DC VM into "Clonable Domain Controllers" Security Group

Step 2: Check for applications and determine whether they should be cloned by running "Get-ADDCCloningExcludedApplicationList" cmdlet. If application is not supported for cloning, uninstall it. Otherwise, add the application to the inclusion list (CustomDCCloneAllowList.xml). The list can be generated with the same cmdlet with "-GenerateXML" option.

Step 3: Run "New-ADDCCloneConfigFile" cmdlet on source VM to run a list of prerequisite checks as mentioned above. It would also generate "DCCloneConfig.xml" file that contains a list of settings to be applied to the cloned DC, including network settings, DNS, WINS, AD site name, new DC name etc. The xml file is contained at the "%Systemroot%\NTDS" folder. These new settings can be specified with the same cmdlet input with the necessary options. For example:
New-ADDCCloneConfigFile -IPv4Address -IPv4DefaultGateway -IPv4SubnetMask -IPv4DNSResolver, -Static -SiteName CORPDR

Step 4: Shut down the source VM and export it out using "Export-VM" cmdlet e.g. Export-VM -name sourceDC -Path D:\ClonedDC.

Step 5: Import the VM by running "Import-VM" cmdlet e.g. Import-VM –Path {VM XML Path} –Copy –GenerateNewId –VhdDestinationPath D:\ClonedDC. You can also rename the new VM using Hyper-V manager. Start the newly cloned VM.

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