SQL Server 2000 Clustering Tips

Tip: In the Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit is a tool called the Microsoft Cluster Tool. It can be used to help backup and restore a cluster configuration, along with helping to move resources from a non-clustered server to a clustered server configuration.

Explanation: The Cluster Tool includes three wizards: The Configuration Backup Wizard, the Configuration Restore Wizard, and the Resource Migration Wizard. The Configuration Backup Wizard is used to backup your current cluster configuration information, which includes group, resource, and resource type information. As you might imagine, the Configuration Restore Wizard allows you to restore cluster information, either as a whole, or individually, such as a single resource. The Migration Wizard is used to help move resources from stand-alone Windows 2000 resources to a Windows 2000 cluster.

Version: 2000

Date Added: 10-11-2001

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Tip: When creating SQL Server resource names (such as the name of your virtual SQL Server), only use letters or numbers in the name, not any special characters. If you do, the SQL Server cluster Setup Wizard most likely will fail.

Explanation: For whatever reason, cluster resource names that include special characters, may cause the Setup Wizard to fail. To prevent this, keep the following in mind: 1) only use letters or numbers in the resource name; 2) don’t use spaces or periods in the name; 3) make sure that resource names don’t match the names of resource group names (which can also cause the Setup Wizard to fail).

Version: 2000

Date Added: 10-17-2001

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Tip: Don’t use virus checking software on your cluster. It not only makes your SQL Server cluster more unreliable, it hurts performance.

Explanation: Although, technically speaking, if your virus software claims to be cluster compatible, virus software can run on a cluster, although it is not recommended. Research has shown that high availability clusters are more highly available without virus software than they are with it. In addition, virus software chews up valuable CPU cycles and memory that can better be used by SQL Server for optimum performance.

One way to avoid viruses on a SQL Server is to ensure that any computer, client or otherwise that connects to the SQL Server cluster, has virus software on them. A second way is to ensure that your clustered SQL Server does not have any e-mail packages on it. A third way is not to browse the web from a clustered SQL Server. And a forth way is to not have any shared folders on the cluster.

Version: 7.0, 2000

Date Added: 12-11-2001

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Tip: Once SQL Server 2000 clustering in installed, use the SQL Server Setup program to make changes to the cluster’s configuration.

Explanation: It is very important that you use the SQL Server Setup program to make many SQL Server clustering changes, otherwise you risk corrupting your installation. The following must be performed from the Setup program:

Change the virtual cluster name
Change the virtual cluster IP address
Adding or removing cluster nodes
Version: 2000

Date Added: 1-17-2002

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Tip: When any SQL Server administrative tools, such as Enterprise Manager, Query Analyzer, and Profiler, is performing some task, and a SQL Server failover occurs, the current process will stop and have to restarted once the failover is complete.

Explanation: SQL Server administrative tools, just like any software connected to a SQL Server cluster, will fail when failover occurs. This means that any task or process you were running (such as a SQL Server backup job) will fail, and will have to be restarted once the failover has completed. In some cases, you may want to close the software, then restart it, so that you are properly authenticated on the new server before you restart any tasks.

Version: 7.0, 2000

Date Added: 1-25-2002

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Tip: SQL Server clustering is not designed to prevent data failure. For optimum data protection, consider using log shipping to move data from your production cluster to another SQL Server, preferably off-site.

Explanation: While SQL Server clustering can provide fault tolerance for many aspects of a SQL Server, such as hardware, network, operating system, and application failure, it cannot protect against lost of data. This includes if the shared array fails, the connections to the shared array fails, if data is destroyed by users by accident, or if the entire cluster is destroyed.

While nightly backups are important, they still leave a lot of data unprotected. If your cluster must have very high availability, consider using log shipping (either built into SQL Server 2000, or a version that you perform yourself) to move data to another server, preferably to a server located offsite, and connected to your cluster via a WAN or high-speed LAN. This of course entails making the necessary preparations to move to the other server should the cluster fail.

Version: 7.0, 2000

Date Added: 2-5-2002

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Tip: Before you install Windows 2000 clustering, you must create a clustering service account that will be used by the Cluster Service. It is important that this account be setup correctly.

Explanation: One of the biggest reasons that people have problems installing Windows 2000 clustering and SQL Server 2000 clustering is because the Cluster Service account is not setup correctly. Be sure that you do the following when creating the Cluster Service account:

The Cluster Service account must be a domain account, but it does not have to be a member of the Domain Administers group.
When creating the Cluster Service account, ensure that the option, “User must change password at next logon” is not selected, that the option “Password never expires” is selected. 
All of the nodes in a cluster must belong to the same domain, and belong to the same domain as the Cluster Service account.
The Cluster Service account must be a member of the local administrators group on all the servers in the cluster.
The Cluster Service account must have these server rights on each of the nodes in the cluster: “Logon as a service” and “Act as part of the operating system.” These rights will automatically be given in most cases when you install the Clustering Service properly.
Version: 7.0, 2000

Date Added: 3-8-2002

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