How to Cluster SQL Server 2005

Believe it or not, the procedure to install a SQL Server 2005 instance onto a cluster is one of the easiest parts of getting your SQL Server 2005 cluster up and running. The SQL Server 2005 setup program is used for the install and does the hard work for you. All you have to do is make a few (but critically important) decisions, and then sit back and watch the installation take place. In fact, the setup program even goes to the trouble to verify that your nodes are all properly configured, and if not, will suggest how to fix most problems before the installation begins.

When the installation process does begin, the setup program recognizes all the nodes, and once you give it the go ahead to install on each one, it does, all automatically. SQL Server 2005 binaries are installed on the local drive of each node, and the system databases are stored on the shared array you designate.

In the next section are the step-by-steps instructions for installing a SQL Server 2005 instance in a cluster. The assumption for this example is that you will be installing this instance in a 2-node active/passive cluster. Even if you will be installing a 2-node active/active or a multi-node cluster, the steps in this section are virtually the same. The only real difference is that you will have to run SQL Server 2005 setup for every instance you want to install on the cluster, and you will have to specify a different logical drive on the shared array.

Clustering SQL Server

To begin installing your SQL Server 2005 cluster, you will need the installation CD or DVD. You can either install it directly from the media, or copy the install files from the media to the current active node of the cluster, and run the setup program from there.

To begin the installation, run Setup.exe. After an introductory screen, you will get the first install dialog box as shown in the figure below.

The Installing Prerequisites dialog box lists the prerequisites that need to be installed before installation of SQL Server 2005 can begin. The number of components may vary from the above figure, depending on what you have already installed on your nodes. What is interesting to note here is that these prerequisite components will only be installed immediately on the active node. They will be installed on the passive node later during the installation process. This is done automatically and you don’t have to worry about it.

Click Install to install these components. When completed, you will get a dialog box telling you that they were installed successfully, and then you can the click Next to proceed. On occasion, I have seen these components fail to install correctly. If this happens, you will have to troubleshoot the installation. Generally speaking, try rebooting both nodes of the cluster and try installing them again. This often fixes whatever caused the first setup try to fail.

Once the prerequisite components have been successfully installed, the SQL Server Installation Wizard launches, as you can see in the figure below.

Click Next to proceed.

The next step is for the SQL Server Installation Wizard to perform a System Configuration Check. This is very similar to the check that was performed with clustering services when you installed Windows Server 2003 Clustering. Ideally, you want all checks to be successful, with a green icon. If you get any yellow warning or red error icons, then you need to find out what the problem is, and correct it before proceeding. In some cases, yellow warning icons can be ignored, but red error icons cannot. If you have any yellow or red icons, you may have to abort the setup process, fix the problem, then restart the setup process. Assuming all is well, click Next to proceed.


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