Clustering For Mere Mortals

2010 in review

Posted in WSFC by daveberm on January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 54,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 30 posts. There was 1 picture uploaded, taking a total of 2kb.

The busiest day of the year was August 18th with 347 views. The most popular post that day was Step-by-Step: Configuring a 2-node multi-site cluster on Windows Server 2008 R2 – Part 3.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were social.technet.microsoft.com, social.msdn.microsoft.com, google.com, google.co.in, and ditii.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sql 2008 r2 cluster step by step, clustering for mere mortals, there was an error setting private property ‘requirekerberos’ to value ‘1’ for resource ‘sql network name, and hyper-v r2 sizing.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Step-by-Step: Configuring a 2-node multi-site cluster on Windows Server 2008 R2 – Part 3 October 2009
13 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Step-by-Step: Configuring a 2-node multi-site cluster on Windows Server 2008 R2 – Part 1 September 2009
14 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

3

Hyper-V pass-through disk performance vs. fixed size VHD files and dynamic VHD files in Windows Server 2008 R2 September 2009
10 comments

4

Step-by-Step: Configuring a 2-node multi-site cluster on Windows Server 2008 R2 – Part 2 September 2009
4 comments

5

Making sense of virtualization availability options August 2009
5 comments

SQL Server Denali and HADRON

Posted in DataKeeper, High Availability, SQL, WSFC by daveberm on December 10, 2010

Microsoft’s latest version of SQL, code named Denali, is currently in CTP. One of the most anticipated feature is something called HADRON. Basically, it is has been described as mirroring 2.0. The best features of HADRON as I can see compared to mirroring as it is in 2005/2008 are as follows:

  • You can query the mirror (now known as a replica)
  • You can have more than one replica
  • Database are grouped into availability groups to ensure related databases always fail over together
  • Support for replicating more than 10 databases

If you want a great preview, check out fellow MVP Brent Ozar’s post, SQL Server Denali Rocks!

From reading Brent’s post I gather Microsoft only plans to include this in the Enterprise version of SQL. That is too bad for the many customers running SQL Server Standard as traditionally there is a significant price jump to go from Standard to Enterprise. However, that is good news for the 3rd party replication vendors out there who are providing similar functionality today on SQL 2005/2008 on Standard and Enterprise Editions.

While it is not an exact duplicate of HADRON, a multisite cluster using SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition for SQL Server gives you a great solution for HA/DR without requiring shared storage. So while we wait for Denali and all the application vendors to start supporting Denali you might want to have a look at what SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition can do for you today!

Important Security Update for Windows Server 2008 R2 Clusters

Posted in High Availability, WSFC by daveberm on October 13, 2010

It seems as if there could be a vulnerability which would allow unauthorized access to administrative shares! You will certainly want this patch ASAP and also don’t forget to check the permission levels on your administrative shares after you apply this patch.

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS10-086.mspx

Recommendation. Microsoft recommends that customers consider applying the security update using update management software, or by checking for updates using the Microsoft Update service. Additionally, after applying the update, customers should check the permissions on existing cluster disk administrative shares and set the proper access levels for their environment.

Hyper-V Multi-Site Demo at Tech-Ed 2010 New Orleans

Posted in DataKeeper, High Availability, Hyper-V, virtualization, WSFC by daveberm on June 8, 2010

If you are at Tech-Ed in New Orleans this week make sure you stop by the Windows Server Failover Cluster booth in the Technology Learning Center and have a look at the multi-site Hyper-V cluster demo using SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition as the replication engine. I’ll also be in the booth to answer any questions you may have. SteelEye also has a booth at the show if you would like to discuss becoming a partner or customer!

How to Install Service Packs into a Cluster while also Minimizing Planned Downtime

Posted in High Availability, Hyper-V, virtualization, VMware, vSphere, WSFC by daveberm on March 20, 2010

I answer this question often enough that I thought I should probably but a link to it in my blog.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/174799?p=1

This article tells you everything you need to know. However, what you may not realize is that by following the instructions in the article you are minimizing the amount of planned downtime while also giving yourself the opportunity to “test” the update on one node before your upgrade both nodes. If the upgrade does not go well on the first node, at least the application is still running on the second node until you can figure out what went wrong.

This is just one of the side benefits that you get when you cluster at the application layer vs. clustering at the hypervisor layer. If this were simply a VM in an availability group, you would have to schedule downtime to complete the application upgrade and hope that it all went well as the only failback is to restore the VM from backup. As I discussed in earlier articles, there is a benefit to clustering at the hypervisor level, but you have to understand what you are giving up as well.

Advanced Availability and Disaster Recovery for Hyper-V at TechDays Germany

Posted in DataKeeper, High Availability, Hyper-V, virtualization, WSFC by daveberm on March 17, 2010

I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Germany where I attended CeBIT and also presented at TechDays in Hannover and Essen with Microsoft Technical Evangelists Michael Korp and Ralf Schnell . The trip was very productive and the sessions were very well attended. My portion of the session focused on Advanced Availability for Hyper-V, specifically multi-site clusters, data replication and automated disaster recovery. Have a look at the video here.

Are VMware’s vSphere Disaster Recovery Options Really Better than Microsoft’s options for Hyper-V?

Posted in High Availability, Hyper-V, SRM, virtualization, VMware, vSphere, WSFC by daveberm on March 10, 2010

Every time I read a blog post, or open a magazine article about virtualization and disaster recovery I see the same thing….VMware has a more robust DR solution than Microsoft. Well, I’d like to challenge that assumption. From the view where I sit, this is actually one of the areas where Microsoft has a major competitive advantage at the moment. Here is how I see it.

VMware Site Recovery Manager

This is an optional additional add on that rides on the back of Array based replication solutions. While the recovery point objective is good due to the array based replication, the RTO is measured in hours, not minutes. Add in the fact that moving back to the primary data center is a very manual procedure which basically requires that you re-create your jobs in the opposite direction; the complete end to end recovery operation of failover and failback could take the better part of a day or longer.

Microsoft Multi-Site Cluster

Virtual machine HA clustering is included with the free version of Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, as well as with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Datacenter editions. In order to do multi-site clusters, it requires array based replication or host based replication solutions that integrate with Windows Server Failover Clustering. With a multi-site cluster, failover is measured in minutes (just about the time it takes to start a VM) and can be used with array based replication solutions such as EMC SRDF CE or HP MSA CLX or the much less expensive host based replication solutions such as SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition.

Not only is failover quick with Hyper-V multi-site clusters, measured in just a few minutes, failback is also quick and seamless as well. Add in support for Live Migrations or Quick Migration across Data Centers, I think this is one area that Microsoft actually has a much more robust solution than VMware. Maybe it does not included automated DR tests, but when you consider you can failover and failback all in under 10 minutes, maybe an actual DR test performed monthly would give you a much better indication of what to expect in an actual disaster?

If you want a Hyper-V solution more like SRM, then there is an option there as well, it is called Citrix Essential for Hyper-V. But much like SRM, it is an optional add-on feature and really doesn’t even match the RPO and RTO features that you can achieve with basic multi-site clusters for Hyper-V.

What do you think? Am I wrong or is there something I just don’t get? From my view, Hyper-V is heads and shoulders above vSphere in terms of disaster recovery features.

Will Windows Failover Clusters (MSCS/WSFC) Become Obsolete?

Posted in High Availability, Hyper-V, VMware, vSphere, WSFC by daveberm on March 1, 2010

I was recently asked whether MSCS/WSFC will become obsolete due to 3rd party HA solutions. I think there will always be a market for 3rd party HA solutions, but many of the enhancements delivered with Windows Server 2008 have reduced the need to explore alternate HA solutions.  I think the greater threat to MSCS/WSFC is HA solutions provided by the virtualization vendors, such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V failover clusters (which actually uses WSFC) and VMware HA.  These solutions provided by the virtualization platform provide protection in case of host failure, although they currently do not have visibility into the application that is running within the VM. 

The real question is what kind of failure do you want to protect against? If physical server failure is your primary concern, then in some cases where MSCS may have previously been deployed, you will see Hyper-V Clusters or VMware HA being deployed instead.  In other cases where MSCS/WSFC may have seemed like overkill or was incompatible with the OS or application, you will instead see clustered VMs being deployed because it is easy to install and it supports all applications and operating systems. The mere fact that more workloads will be running per physical server will make it imperative to have some kind of clustering solution so that the failure of a single server does not bring down your entire infrastructure. In many cases, this clustering solution will be provided by the virtualization vendor.

Hyper-V Clusters and VMware HA are easy to implement and have a broad range of support as the protected VM can be running any OS or application.  The tradeoff is that you lose the application level monitoring included with MSCS/WSFC.  There will always be a class of applications that need application awareness, so MSCS/WSFC or other HA solutions that manage application availability will always be needed to ensure that the application is available, not just the server itself. With that being said, MSCS/WSFC will not become obsolete, but you will see it deployed alongside other cluster solutions provided by the hypervisor vendors..

Stability update for Windows Server 2008 R2 Failover Print Clusters

Posted in DataKeeper, High Availability, WSFC by daveberm on January 22, 2010

If you have a print server failover cluster on Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft recommends you install this update immediately.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976571

Read this great Blog post from Symon Perriman, Program Manager for Microsoft’s Clustering and High Availability Team for more details.

http://blogs.msdn.com/clustering/archive/2010/01/22/9951795.aspx

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server Virtualization, Configuration

Posted in DataKeeper, virtualization, WSFC by daveberm on January 7, 2010

It is official, I passed exam 70-652 today and I am now a MCTS: Windows Server Virtualization, Configuration. It was 11 years ago that I sat for my first NT 4 exam and now about a dozen exams later I am just now embarking on updating my credentials to the latest and greatest, once again. I think certifications are a good thing, but certainly don’t replace real world experience and good Google skills when it comes to diagnosing a problem or planning a new project. I’ll keep you posted on my progress; hopefully I’ll be able to complete MCITP: Enterprise Administrator before my kids get out of school in June so I can enjoy the summer.

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