Windows Server 8 Failover Clustering – New Features and Relevant Blog Articles

Elden Christensen recently blogged about some of the new features of Windows Server Failover Clustering in Windows Server 8. You can read the entire post here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/clustering/archive/2012/03/19/10285168.aspx

All of these features are welcome additions, but my personal favorite is the “Dynamic Clusters” or what I think is probably better described as “Dynamic Quorum”. It basically allows the quorum to reconfigure itself dynamically so that if configured properly you could actually withstand the failure of all but one remain node (last man standing) and still have a functional cluster. Previously this was only possible if you used the “Disk Only” quorum model which is not recommended as the disk quorum represented a single point of failure.

With the new dynamic quorum model as nodes are removed from the cluster the remaining nodes reconfigure themselves in the most resilient manner. For example, previously if you had a 5 node cluster using the “Node Majority” quorum model if you happen to lose three nodes the remaining two nodes would shut down as they no longer had a majority vote (2 out of 5 is not a majority). With the new model, as nodes leave the cluster the quorum reconfigures itself so that the remaining two nodes would remain online.

The description above is really an over simplification of what actually happens under the covers and I plan to write more about it in the future, but it is definitely a welcome feature that you should check out!

There are a few other blog articles relevant to clustering in Windows Server 8 that you will definitely want to check out as well….

How to Enable Failover Clustering and Network Load Balancing PowerShell Help on Windows Server “8”:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/clustering/archive/2012/03/21/10286213.aspx

How to Enable CSV Cache:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/clustering/archive/2012/03/22/10286676.aspx

How to Create a Cluster in a Restrictive Active Directory Environment: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/clustering/archive/2012/03/30/10289577.aspx

Windows Server 8 Failover Clustering – New Features and Relevant Blog Articles

Step-by-Step: Configuring Windows Server 8 Beta iSCSI Target Software for Use in a Cluster

So you just download the bits for Windows Server 8 Beta and you are anxious to try out all the great new features including Windows Storage Spaces, Continuously Available Fail Servers and Hyper-V Availability. Many of those new features are going to require you become familiar with Windows Server Failover Clustering. In addition, things like Storage Spaces are going require that you have access to additional storage to simulate JBODS. Windows iSCSI Target Software is a great way for you to provide storage for Failover Clustering and Spaces in a lab environment so you can play around with these new features.

This Step-by-Step Article assumes you have three Windows Server 8 servers running in a domain environment. My lab environment consists of the following:

Hardware
My three servers are all virtual machines running on VMware Workstation 8 on top of my Windows 7 laptop with 16 GB of RAM. See my article on how to install Windows Server 8 on VMware Workstation 8.

Server Names and Roles
PRIMARY.win8.local – my cluster node 1
SECONDARY.win8.local – my cluster node 2
WIN-EHVIK0RFBIU.win8.local – my domain controller (guess who forgot to rename his DC before I promoted it to be a Domain ControllerJ)

Network
192.168.37.X/24 – my public network also used to carry iSCSI traffic
10.X.X.X /8– a private network defined just between PRIMARY and SECONDARY for cluster communication

This article is going to walk you through step-by-step on how to do the following:

The article consist mostly of screen shots, but I also add notes where needed.

Install the iSCSI Target Role on your Domain Controller

Click on Add roles and features to install the iSCSI target role.

You will find that the iSCSI target role is a feature that is found under File And Storage Servers/File Services. Just select iSCSI Target Server and click Next to begin the installation of the iSCSI Target Server role.

Configure the iSCSI Target

The iSCSI target software is managed under File and Storage Services on the Server Manager Dashboard, click on that to continue

The first step in creating an iSCSI target is to create an iSCSI Virtual Disk. Click on Launch the New Virtual Disk wizard to create a virtual disk.

Connect to the iSCSI Target using the iSCSI Initiator

Format the iSCSI Target

Connect to the shared iSCSI Target from the SECONDARY Server

Configure Windows Server 8 Failover Clustering

Step-by-Step: Configuring Windows Server 8 Beta iSCSI Target Software for Use in a Cluster

How to Install Windows Server 8 Beta on VMware Workstation 8

Below are the screen shots that walk you through the process of installing Windows Server 8 Beta on VMware Workstation 8. I have notated the most important things to notice.

 

Take note, I choose Windows 7, NOT Windows 7 64-bit. I’m not sure it matters, but I believe this will work best for you.

The download is pre-licenses, so you don’t have to enter anything here. However, this will cause problems later if you don’t disconnect the floppy – more on this later.

Click Customize Hardware

Choose the processor that matches your host and enable Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT (your processor must support this) if you want to run the Hyper-V role on this server. See my earlier blog post on how to make that happen.

Make sure you unselect “Power on this virtual machine after creation”, we need to edit one more thing before we continue.

After you create the VM, go back in and disconnect the Floppy, otherwise the install will fail because the autoinst.flp is missing the product key.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long while later after a few reboots…

You are now ready to use Windows Server 8 Beta! I have not installed the VMware tools yet, but I’ll probably try later. If you try it let me know what you think.

How to Install Windows Server 8 Beta on VMware Workstation 8

Windows Server 8 Developer Preview will not support the Hyper-V Role while running on VMware Workstation…at least on my laptop

Unless someone knows a trick that I don’t, it doesn’t appear as if I will be able to test out some of the Hyper-V clustering features unless I identify some actual hardware for Windows 8. I had hoped that just maybe VMware Workstation 8 would be able to fool Windows 8 into thinking it was actually a physical server, but so far no dice. This article appears to indicate it will work if you have an Intel Nehalem or Intel Core i7 processor, but my two year old Intel Core 2 Duo T9500 doesn’t seem to be able to do the trick.

I added the hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = “FALSE” to the config file and I changed the CPU settings to use Intel VT –x/EPT as shown below.

But this is what I get when I try to enable the Hyper-V role.

Maybe it is time to invest in a new laptop?

Windows Server 8 Developer Preview will not support the Hyper-V Role while running on VMware Workstation…at least on my laptop

Hyper-V Replica Coming in Windows Server “Next”

Here is an interesting video that demonstrates “Hyper-V Replica”, a new feature coming in the next version of Windows. Skip to the 39 minute mark to see the demonstration.

http://digitalwpc.com/Videos/AllVideos/Permalink/3cb3788c-5c47-4b9e-987c-0dec4194058b/#fbid=slfi0dmNMqP

It looks like a very welcome feature that certainly will make Hyper-V even more competitive when comparing the feature set vs. price between vSphere and Hyper-V, especially with the new pricing announced by VMware.

I’ll be very curious to see if this integrates with Windows Server Failover Clustering to allow you create shared nothing clusters as you can today with 3rd party replication software like SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition as I demonstrated in an earlier blog post.

https://clusteringformeremortals.com/2009/09/17/hyper-v-live-migration-across-data-centers/

Hyper-V Replica Coming in Windows Server “Next”