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As we all know, the cluster setup, maintenance, and underlying mechanisms have been changed extensively for SQL 2008 compared to 2005/2000. Although this fell under the Storage Engine group I was responsible for at Microsoft in 2005-2008, I wasn't closely involved and I haven't set up a cluster like this yet. I've got a bunch of test hardware and this is now on my list to do.

The last few times I've taught an overview-of-HA-technologies class for Microsoft recently, I've heard a mixture of experiences, some good, some bad, when setting up a SQL 2008 on Win 2008 cluster - but I've never had time to make extensive notes on what to watch out for.

So my question is this - IF you've setup this configuration, what issues did you run into and how did you overcome them?

This will help save me a lot of time, and I'll publicize the findings on my blog too.

Many thanks.

PS I wanted to make this a 'what issues have you hit' title, but I got the 'subjective question' warning.

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3 Answers 3

I recommend running the install from SP1 slipstreamed media. There are fixes to setup that you will benefit from even before sql is installed (i.e., in order to install sql)

I've had issues when ipv6 is enabled, as detailed here: http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/justinl/archive/2008/08/20/windows-2008-cluster-validation-failure.aspx . Not sure if SP1 resolved this or not, but if you don't need ipv6, may as well disable it.

Also, to Massimo's point - you can create virtual test clusters using starwind's free iscsi target: http://www.starwindsoftware.com/free

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Excellent - thanks! –  Paul Randal Jun 1 '09 at 1:43

Ok, maybe this one is obvious, but not everybody knows it, so I'm pointing it out anyway: Windows Server 2008 doesn't support SCSI storage anymore for clustering, so you have to use SAN/iSCSI storage for any kind of clustering on this OS.

This also makes it almost impossible to create virtual test cluster in virtualized environments, as these can only emulate shared SCSI storage.

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That's a great tip - thanks! –  Paul Randal May 31 '09 at 23:49
1  
this is not exactly true as you can use any system that uses scsi-3. I'm not sure that anything made in the past 3 -5 years would not support scsi-3 reservations. The big exception is vmware which didn't until 4.0. You can also use starwinds software iscsi target as a test platform –  Jim B Jun 1 '09 at 3:09

The 1st issue we ran into, that most have already seen is the SCSI-3 Persistent Reservations.

I don't know of anyone that just jumps into Win2k8 and SQL2k8 without first testing in the lab. Which means using some type of iSCSI storage. In the past we had used Openfiler for our test cluster, which at this time does NOT function with Win2k8 Failover Clustering.

Starwind has recently released a free version that would do the trick, but that is only very recent.

Another option, is that Microsoft now offers Windows Storage Server 2008 through their MSDN subscribers page. Windows Storage Server has an iSCSI Target solution that works excellent with-in a test environment.

The next issue we ran into is that while Windows 2008 Failover Clustering will allow you to create a cluster with Warning Dialogs, you can NOT install SQL 2008 with out 1st having a validated cluster.

Microsoft will not support an 'unvalidated' cluster, but in our instance it was just a matter of having a single disk that did not support SCSI-3, but it was not going to be used in the cluster anyways, but the validation wizard saw it as a potential disk, so flagged a warning.

SQL was unable to be installed until that disk was removed. Although I did also find a command line install option that ignores the Windows 2008 validation warnings.

Other than that, smooth sailing.

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For reported iSCSI 3 compatible software targets, see serverfault.com/questions/6860/… –  Peter Stuer Jun 5 '09 at 6:24

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