IBM Doles Out NT Migration Secrets

Many system administrators understand the headaches that go with moving to new server hardware for a recovery. "A full restore -- a lift-and-load from one platform to another -- requires exactly the same hardware, including SCSI controllers," says Randy Middlebrooks, LAN recovery engineer for IBM's Business Recovery Services unit (Sterling Forest, N.Y.).

Without the exact same hardware, moving a system to another box requires reinstallation of the operating system, reinstallation all applications that edit the Registry, restoration of the subset of the Registry that contains user account information, and then restoration of data. "It becomes a big deal when you have a problem with your documentation," Middlebrooks explains. "If you don't do a thorough job in documenting the configuration file or the definitions of applications, it could take days, if not weeks, to get a server back up and running."

To smooth this process and narrow it down to several hours, IBM has posted guidelines on its Web site ( that detail how Windows NT managers can make the move to new hardware. The procedures are centered around the use of a backup/restore utility, in conjunction with reinstalling the operating system on a new server. The 18-step procedure covers reinstallation of service packs, backup/restore software service packs, drive partitions, rebooting, upgrading, and use of Windows NT administration tools.

"With our procedure, you can do the lift and load; the only difference is that you do a partial restore," Middlebrooks relates. "You then go through an upgrade process, with a little cleanup in the end. That gets you around having to do the reinstallation."

The procedures were tested in IBM labs using a range of servers, running Pentium Pro, Pentium II and Xeon, Middlebrooks says. Most major backup/restore utilities can be employed, as well as that in NT 4.0. "As long as you're restoring to an equal or greater amount of DASD, you have no problem," he adds.

IBM is providing migration instructions at no cost to avoid hardware acquisition and compatibility problems when signing disaster recovery contracts, says Middlebrooks. As a service provider, IBM is obligated to match customers' hardware, but "so many different boxes out there, some 2 or 3 years old, are hard to find," Middlebrooks explains. "It was economically better for us and our customers to provide this procedure for moving to new hardware."

IBM Business Recovery Services will also soon be announcing an NT mirroring solution that automatically backs up data on an NT server as it is inputted, according to IBM sources.