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Does anyone know of a way to simulate a clustered SQL server solution? We obviously don't want to spend a lot of money prototyping the idea, but we have quite a few PCs available. I was just wondering if there was any way I could fool SQL server into thinking it's being installed on to clustered hardware by either using physical machines or even virtual machines?

I don't hope to do any performance testing of course, it's more to do with testing fail over scenarios and replication etc.

Any ideas?

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The easiest way to do this is to build a virtual cluster in VMware. It's not technically supported unless you're on approved hardware/software, but for your needs, that's fine.

The tricky part is the shared storage configuration, and this article explains how to do it:

http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=220875&start=0

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I was going to mention this exact approach that Brent outlined as it's a cheap way (from a hardware perspective) to play around with what's typically referred to as a 'pocket cluster'.

Obviously though... this doesn't end up being that cheap if you're planning on using it in production, as you'll need at least 2 licenses of Windows Server Enterprise, and 1 license of SQL Server Enterprise (per each proc). But if it's just for testing then MSDN/TechNet licenses can be used and it's then just a question of hardware, virtualization, and configuration.

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Physically you can likely do it using the physical workstations and an iSCSI solution for shared storage, since you're doing it as a test. The simpler approach is VMware, as Brent suggested. And just to make it clear, from a Microsoft perspective a fail-over cluster in VMware is not supported, even in an approved hardware/software solution.

From Server Virtualization Validation Program FAQ:

Does the SVVP cover all Windows Server roles? All Windows Server roles are supported with SVVP-validated solutions, except Hyper-V and Clustering Services. It does not make sense to run a hypervisor (Hyper-V) on another virtualization solution/hypervisor, and Clustering requires all of the hardware components to be tested by the hardware OEM (e.g. server, storage, HBA controller, operating system).

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