Recently I built for myself a brand new PI System environment to test and develop around the new PI System for my upcoming role in vCampus (Yes I joined the team this week). I was looking for installing a virtual machine that would host the server components of the PI System: PI Server 2010 SP1 and PI AF 2010 R3. I decided I’ll test the use case of an environment with no graphical user interface such as Windows Server core.
For those of you that would not be familiar with what Windows Server Core is, it is a significantly scaled-back installation where no Windows Explorer shell is installed. All configuration and maintenance is done entirely through command line interface windows, or by connecting to the machine remotely using Microsoft Management Console. You can learn more about it using this Microsoft link and is offered free by Microsoft up to now and since its initial release.
My next step was to verify the OS specifications for the different components required such as Microsoft SQL Server, .NET Framework 4, PI Server 2010 SP1, PI AF 2010 R3, PI SDK 1.4, etc. and all of them could work on a Windows Server core environment (offered by Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1). So, I downloaded it from one of the Microsoft Download sites, installed and configured it with an unprecedented ease with a very nice tool called Core Configurator (available here at CodePlex). I’ll blog later on the advantages given by this tool.
The installation process didn’t go as a straight line for some components but I found my way out. How I succeeded would be part of further blog posts. As a final step, I launched the pisrvstart.bat script from the command prompt to start the PI Server and PI AF Server, and watched the messages returned by the different PI Subsystems at the look of any eventual errors but none of them came. I utilized PI System Management Tools and PI System Explorer from a client machine to validate my new installation and everything was up and running smoothly. Congratulations! The PI Server and PI AF components were installed and functioning at 100%.
I started wondering if all the pieces installed with the PI Server and PI AF, such as the PISDKUtility.exe could run directly from this core environment. I invoked the pisdkutility.exe command, the tool that replaced the former AboutPI-SDK.exe and I got the PI SDK Utility window in my screen. I tested all the options and all of them were working great.
An idea started to take form in my head. What about PI ACE! Wouldn’t be that great if it could work within such an environment? I looked at the documentation and nothing was said that it works or not. Thus I copied the setup kits, launch the installation and respond to standard installation questions. I was brought up to the point of choosing the components to be installed, from which I only selected the PI ACE Scheduler 2.x item and click on the OK button. The installation had completed perfectly and left me at the command prompt. Knowing that PI ACE Scheduler service is not started by default, I started it by using the sc start piacenetscheduler command and verified its status with sc query piacenetscheduler command a few seconds later.
A few glimpses at the PI Message Log using the PI SDK Utility returned me that the PI ACE (PI Advanced Computing Engine) 2010 R2 (version 184.108.40.206) was running on a Windows Server core and awaiting my first calculation module. A few minutes later, I had created a typical basic calculation module firing naturally and made of the multiplication by two of the CDT158 point into an output point which was holding the results. The results seen were more than expected. I just started imagining all the new horizons and use cases that could be addressed with a core environment (This will be part of a further blog post).
Have you attempted some other tests with PI System components and the Windows Server Core environment? Please share your attempts, your ideas or your questions.