I spend a fair amount of time creating environments for IBM Business
Partners to test their solutions and therefore I install WAS frequently.
To reduce the effort required and time taken, I've investigated a
number of methods of automation and in this post I'd like to share what I
now consider to be best practice. In this post I'm going to cover use of response files with the Centralized Installation Manager to deploy entire cells. Combining this approach with use of Customized Installation Packages (CIP)
offers a repeatable and highly efficient method of installing WebSphere Application Server with minimal human intervention.
Centralized Installation Manager
The Centralized Installation Manager (CIM) was a new feature introduced in WebSphere Application Server (WAS) version 7 aimed at system administrators that greatly simplifies the task of installing WAS and any associated fix packs or ifixes onto an estate of hardware. In short, the CIM has an associated repository of product binaries (GA code, fix packs, ifixes, CIPs) and uses operating system level commands to install these binaries onto remote target machines. The CIM is an attractive option for installers as no software or agent needs to be installed on the remote targets for the CIM to perform an installation. The CIM can deploy WAS 7 binaries and fix packs/ifixes for both WAS 6.1 and 7, meaning you can maintain mixed-version cells. The CIM can install onto three targets in parallel, so it can be a big time saver over performing manual installations. It can also download fix packs directly from the IBM Support web site. I'm not going to go into any further detail about installing, configuring or using the CIM as these topics are already well covered by (in order of depth) IBM Education Assistant
, the InfoCenter
, and this Redpaper
I wanted to write specifically about use of response files with the Centralized Installation Manager. This is a technique I use to deploy new WebSphere clusters for my business partners using CIPs
I've created that comprise WAS 7 and a specific fix pack. To achieve this I use a stand-alone Deployment Manager which includes the Centralized Installation Manager component and a CIM repository stocked with WAS product binaries and my CIPs that I have created using IBM WebSphere Installation Factory. The trick is using a response file with the CIM to control the type of profile that gets created when the product is installed. To suit my needs I have a response file that creates a Deployment Manager profile and another that creates a Custom profile and then federates that profile to a named Deployment Manager. This enables me start by creating using my CIM Deployment Manager to create a new Deployment Manager (and therefore Cell), and then edit my Custom profile response file to specify the newly-created Deployment Manager for federation as shown below.
Here's the steps I use in more detail:
- Add each host of my target hardware to the Centralized Installation Manager using the Add installation target option.
- Use the Centralized Installation Manager to Install with response file a WebSphere Application Server binary (GA or CIP) onto your target Deployment Manager using a Deployment Manager response file that creates a new management profile.
- Log on to the newly installed Deployment Manager and start it using startManager. This step is vital as the Custom response file used to create the nodes expects to federate the profile with the Deployment Manager at profile creation time. If you don't start your Deployment Manager, your nodes won't federate!
- Edit your Custom response file and set the -OPT PROF_dmgrHost option to the IP/hostname of your newly installed Deployment Manager.
- Use the Centralized Installation Manager to Install with response file a WebSphere Application Server binary onto all remaining hosts using a Custom response file that creates a new custom profile and federates each new node to the Deployment Manager specified by the PROF_dmgrHost option.
If you've never installed WAS using a response file before, take a look at the sample response file that ship with the product - it's very well documented. You'll find the sample in the WAS
directory of your installation media and if you need more information than supplied in the file, check out the InfoCenter
. Alternatively, you're welcome to use my samples as a starting point for your own customisation (please note: all comments have been removed for brevity and these samples were created for the AIX operating system, check carefully against the sample response file for your target OS for additional required options).Sample Deployment Manager response file
# General settings
# Create a CIM in the new DM
# Profile settings
This response file installs the product and then creates a new Deployment Manager profile named DMgr01 with administrative security enabled, most other options are left at their default settings. I also create a new CIM on the target DM in case I need to install more nodes unexpectedly.
Sample Custom profile
# General settings
# Profile settings
-OPT PROF_dmgrHost="<target DM>"
This response file installs the product and then creates a new Custom profile named AppSrv01, most other options are left at their default settings. The PROF_federateLater setting of false makes the profile automatically federate with the Deployment Manager specified by PROF_dmgrHost.
THE SMALL PRINT: The above assumes that you're fulfilled all the product installation requirements fully before starting to perform installations from the Centralized Installation Manager. The CIM requires that the operating system clocks on all targets are within 5 minutes of each other so use of NTP is strongly recommended. When installing a CIP using a response file, the CIM has limited visibility of the install, if something goes wrong during installation (eg. you forgot to start the new DM!), the CIM Installations in Progress may continue to read "Installation in progress", the default timeout for an installation is two hours.