Let me state up front that my background is software development. I apologize for any dumb questions in advance.

I've been tasked with putting together the specs for hardware that will support a two node Windows Server 2008 failover cluster. We are looking to use HP hardware.

What pieces of hardware are required for a two node setup? Can I get away with just having two servers or do I need an external storage device (SAN?) that is shared between the two servers?

  • From the comments below, it looks as if I will need to use two servers plus an external storage device. Looking at two Proliant ML370 or DL 370s connected to a HP 2312fc DC Modular Smart Array. Comments? – Eric Aug 5 '09 at 19:21

In order to build a Windows Cluster (which is what is needed for a SQL Cluster) you'll need two servers (usually of the same spec) and shared storage. If you are going to cluster Windows 2008 you'll need either a SAN, or a SCSI device that supports SCSI 3, as SCSI 2 is no longer supported for shared storage. I'd recommend a fibre channel SAN as they throughput is much faster.

Pretty much the only other requirement is that the servers will need to have at least 2 NICs each which is pretty standard these days.

Setting up a cluster if you don't already have a SAN isn't cheep. The storage array alone can quickly get up into the 6 figure price range rather quickly depending on the vendor and the options you get.

When it comes to storage keep in mind that you pretty much get what you pay for. Check out the December 2007 issue of SQL Server magazine. It's got an article on clustering SQL Server (granted it's for SQL 2005). There will be an updated version of the article coming out in the September (I think) issue of SQL Server magazine which focuses on clustering SQL Server 2008. You are also welcome to join me on September 15, 2009 when I give a webcast about setting up a Cluster over iSCSI (same basic concepts as fibre channel, just using Ethernet instead of FC).


What will be your cluster used for?


Web server?

Mail server?

Some custom application?

We really need more details here.

Basically, the answer is: if your application has data that both nodes need to access (like SQL Server database files), yes, you need some shared storage; if it's dataless (like a web server), you can do without it.

  • We will be running SQL Server 2008 on both nodes. We will be writing a custom application that will need uninterrupted database access. – Eric Aug 5 '09 at 19:17
  • Do not do that. Clustering is NOT HIGH AVAILABILITY - shared storage is a single point of failure. Use two separate servers, run mirroring and you get a better uptime. – TomTom Aug 21 '10 at 12:57

Generally, ignoring server role (DB, web etc), you are limited to certain kit anyway for clustering based on the MS Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)

Also: HP Proliant page and KB 309395

  • 1
    -1... exactly NOT a requirement at all. Any windows supporting box can be clustered. – TomTom Aug 21 '10 at 12:56
  • @TomTom: Jolly good: Go and cluster 2 virtual instances on the same physical PC. The HCL is there so MS will support you; if you need clustering then one assumes you'd do it correctly, no? – gbn Aug 22 '10 at 6:55
  • No. The HCL basically is confirmed stuff. If the hardware manufacturer tells you windows works, windows will work. HCL's are notoriously no coverinf the complete set of hardware available. I also accept - and always have - the manufacturers compatibility list. – TomTom Aug 22 '10 at 10:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy