PI HA, MS Clustering and PI Collective Manager

Discussion created by BrianHeritage on Apr 15, 2010
Latest reply on May 4, 2010 by RJKSolutions

Okay, so I just signed up for vCampus and this is my first post.  Hope I don't flub this one.  Not sure if this is the right place for this but I'll start here move into other sections of vCampus if I need to.




I have been working with PI for over four years now.  My job title here at Telvent Canada is Subject Matter Expert - PI.  Basically what this means is that if there is a project anywhere in the company (we are international and cross many industries) concerning our SCADA system then there is going to be PI as we are fully integrated with it.  The one thing that is commonplace with my client base is that they always use and trust MS Clustering.


As I said, I've been installing PI Servers for years.  Back in the days prior to HA, installation and configuration of a PI Server was simple, even if MS Clustering was involved.  The install kits recognized that you were trying to set up a clustered server and the install wizards would ask the appropriate questions and then allow installation on each node of the cluster.


Near Present Day Experiences


Moving forward to a few years ago, HA is introduced.  We now have this thing called a PI Collective.  We also have a new tool to create and manage this PI Collective; the PI Collective Manager.  I have to say it is a great tool and makes creating a Collective, adding a Secondary server to a Collective and Re-initializing a Secondary server; easy to do and the little green checkmarks in the display gives most of my clients the warm fuzzies.


For my clients who already had a clustered PI Server and upgraded to HA or new clients who got HA but also wanted clustering, we couldn't just use the PI Collective Manager. We had to make use of a combination of the Cluster Adminisrator and the PI Collective Manager, as well as a few commands at the Command-Prompt.


Present Day Experiences


Last week I completed an upgrade for one of my clients.  They have an existing PI server version 3,4,36x.xx that is clustered.  My task was to install their system on new hardware (clustered of course) then perform an upgrade to PI version 3.4.380.36.  Once upgraded, I was to create a Collective with this server as the Primary and then add a Secondary PI server into the Collective.  This Secondary would also be clustered.


When I went to create the Collective with the first clustered node, I had issues.  It seems that with the addition of Windows Active Directory, there are Windows Certificates that need to be exported from one node of the cluster to the other for the cluster to work properly.  So, you can no longer use th PI Collective Manager to create your collective.  I had to use a number of commands (piconfig and others) at the command-prompt to create the collective and promote this server cluster to be the Primary.  More command-line commands to export and import the Windows certificates as well as using Cluster Administrator to pause one or the other node of the cluster and failing over the cluster. 


Adding the Secondary cluster into the Collective was again more manual commands, manually copying files and use of the Cluster Administrator.  In the newest release of PI, PI Collective Manager has become a simple display tool when it comes to PI Servers that are using MS Clustering.  (Remember the warm fuzzies my clients get with the green checkmarks?)


When clusters are involved, you can no longer use the PI Collective Manager in any way to Add a Secondary Server or re-initialize a Secondary server.  In all honesty, for me it is no problem.  I've implimented enough PI Systems that I can almost do it in my sleep.  What my biggest concern here is that I'm dealing with a large client base that has varying levels of PI knowledge.  To hand a client who knows very little about PI a multiple page document on how to re-initialize their server manually is very intimidating to the client. 


So, after all the above, I'm trying to at least get my experiences out there and I'm hoping that the PI Collective Manager becomes more then just a display tool when MS Clustering is involved.