May 162013

A while back Kendal Van Dyke (b | l | t) asked me a great question regarding the ideal VMware vSphere networking configuration for a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Group configuration. That’s a great topic for a blog post, so let’s go!

Normally, a fairly stock setup can work without any major issues, but in systems with heavier activity, these tips can prevent or fix potential networking issues that can lead to system instability.

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Sep 272012

I read yesterday that VMware has updated the “Microsoft Clustering on VMware vSphere: Guidelines for Supported Configurations” KB article linked here to include SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Failover Clusters. That’s fantastic news! I’ve known it works great for quite a while now, but it’s always nice icing on the cake to have the company publicly update their support policies.

As per the latest VMware vSphere 5.1 document “Setup for Failover Clustering and Microsoft Cluster Service“, up to five MFC nodes are now supported per cluster. Again, this is great news. The document talks about the various options of configuring MFC on vSphere and does a great job with specific configuration details usually missed (or ignored) by folks that I know that cluster on vSphere.

Thanks VMware!

Jun 102012

I’ve gotten multiple questions lately on how difficult it is to add a new node into an established AlwaysOn configuration. The answer is this – It’s easy! Let’s walk through it.

I have the original AlwaysOn replicated pair that I created a month ago and blogged about. The test servers were named DB3A and DB3B, and they formed a cluster node virtual name of DB3. We’ll add a new server called DB3C into the configuration.

First, make sure you have the cluster feature installed on the new server. If not, add it through the Server Manager, add Feature wizard.

Once the Failover Clustering services are installed, add the node. Connect to one of the two machines in the existing cluster, and open the Failover Cluster Manager. Right click on the cluster, and click Add Node.

Warnings should appear on not having shared disks. But… that’s one of the points to AlwaysOn, right? Ignore those particular errors!

You have just added the new node to the cluster! Now, remember to allow the SQL Server service able to connect to the Availability Group. Open the SQL Server Configuration Manager, right click on the SQL Server service, and hit Properties.

Restart the service to commit this change.

Now, it’s time to add this new server to the Availability Group. Open SSMS 2012 and connect to the server that is acting as the AlwaysOn Availability Group Primary server. Expand Availability Groups, and then right click on the Availability Replicas under your Availability Group. Click Add Replica.

Click Connect to load the connections to the secondary replicas. Now click Add Replica and authenticate to the third server.

All of the standard options for Availability Groups appears once authenticated. Set your options on the three tabs.

Click Next. Set a full bacukp and restore path where both service accounts have full access to, and click Next.

A validation wizard appears to check if everything is kosher before you continue.

Click to complete this operation!

The progress screen is pretty slick too!

Once this completes, make sure that everything looks good. If all is well, your screen should look similar to this.

W00t! Your third node is set up and ready to go! That wasn’t too hard, now was it?

Apr 102012

Want to know how hard it is to create a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn database Availability Group? It’s easy!

First, make sure you have your MSFC cluster created. See this post for more details.

Note: This demonstration is being performed on a VMware vSphere 5.0 cluster. It works great as both technologies are very complementary.

Next, on each of your two SQL Server nodes (in this case, servers db3a and db3b), edit your SQL Server service properties and check the box next to ‘Enable AlwaysOn Availability Groups’.

Next, on your primary server (in this case db3a) open SSMS, expand the tree, right click on ‘AlwaysOn High Availability’ and hit the wizard.

Specify the name of your availability group. I’m using the Dell DVDStore workload stressor tool as an example.

Next, the wizard will run a check on the databases on the primary server. If they pass the test, select one or more databases that you want to add to this Availability Group.

Remember to take a backup first, or else you will get the error that you see above.

Select your databases and continue.

Next, sign into your second database server by clicking ‘Add Replica’, specifying your next server and logging in.

Add as many nodes as you wish, up to four.

In this example, I am going to offload the backup functionality onto the second node, as well as use it for reporting, so I want to make the secondary node readable.

Next, click the Endpoints tab and double check your endpoints and its name. Double check your SQL Server Service Accounts and ensure that you have a shared file share set up somewhere that these accounts have access to. It will kick off a backup, restore and log backup automatically and its needs this location to store the files.

Next, click the Backup Preferences tab. Set your backup details carefully.

Next, click the Listener tab. If you prefer, you can add a new listener DNS name and IP address for this Availability Group. I personally find this to be a fantastic new feature.

Next, specify the location that you wish to use as a backup and log transfer location.

The next step runs a validator for all of the settings that you entered. Looks like things look good!

The final screen simply shows you your configuration for final review.

During the Availability Group creation process, it shows you what it’s doing. It throws that warning on the quorum drive, but since we’re doing this on two separate VMs, this error is irrelevant.

Look! It even does the priming of the mirror data pump for you.

Nice touch. The new Availability Group listener is even up!

Now, with SSMS I can connect to each node individually, the cluster VIP, or the new listener as well.

Outstanding! My data is now synchronized! My available replicas are listed, the databases listed, and the listeners shown in an exceptionally clear presentation.

Oh Microsoft. You nailed it on this one. Thank you for a job very well done.

Stay tuned for more AlwaysOn details like adding a new node into an existing cluster and Availability Group, latency and lag testing, and more!

Mar 312012

Before you can create your AlwaysOn availability group, you must first configure your two or more server nodes as a Microsoft Failover Cluster. It’s a trivial task if you are not using shared disks. Follow along as I create a two node cluster with Windows Server 2008R2.

NOTE: This demonstration was done on a VMware vSphere 5.0 cluster. SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn’s clustering underpinnings work great on vSphere!

Launch the Failover Cluster Create Cluster Wizard.

My ultimate goal is to create the cluster virtual node db3. My two cluster nodes are db3a and db3b.

If you run the validation test, ignore any warnings about shared disks not being available for the quorum drive.

Name your virtual node name, and assign the network and IP address. You must have administrative privileges on the cluster within Active Directory, because this wizard creates an object in both Active Directory and DNS for these items.

The confirmation process is very straightforward.

It will take a bit of time to create the node objects on each of the two servers.

Look at that! The cluster has been established and the virtual node created. The warnings come from the lack of shared disks.

The cluster is up! It responds to pings appropriately.

The cluster is up and nodes are reporting that all is good.

Next step – AlwaysOn configuration!

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