SQL Server 2000 Clustering Tips

Tip: When you install Windows 2000 clustering (before you install SQL Server clustering), it is important that you specify the proper network cards for the public and private networks. If you don’t, and you later need to make a change, you will have uninstall SQL Server and Windows 2000 clustering, and then reinstall them correctly.

Explanation: When installing Windows 2000 clustering, you have to be very careful that you select the appropriate network card for the public and private connections for each node. It is easy to get confused. What may be surprising is that a wrong configuration can often work, making you believe that everything is OK.

Once you have discovered that you have made a mistake, don’t be tempted to try and change the assignments using the Cluster Administrator, as it may appear to work, but it won’t, causing further problems.

The only real solution is to remove the SQL Server Clustering and Windows 2000 Clustering, and then reinstall it using the correct network card selections.

Version: 7.0, 2000

Date Added: 10-18-2002


Tip: To learn how to interpret the cluster log, see chapter 20, “Interpreting the Cluster Log” in the book Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Distributed Systems Guide from the Windows 2000 Resource Kit.

Explanation: One of the best ways to learn about Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000 cluster behavior is to examine the cluster.log file, found in the Drive:WINNTcluster folder of your cluster nodes. This log provides detailed information on what is going on, and is good for troubleshooting.

Although the log has lots of detailed information, it is very hard to read and interpret. The only place I have found that even begins to explain the cluster.log is the chapter referenced above. Information on the Internet is very minimal, including Microsoft’s website. If you really want to learn more about this log, your only choice is to purchase the Windows 2000 Resource Kit, and read this chapter.

When reading this log, keep in mind that the time stamps for each entry is based on Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time), not local time. If you don’t know this, reading this log will be very confusing.

Version: 2000

Date Added: 10-24-2002


Tip: When configuring the private network in a Windows 2000 cluster, select the option “All Communications (Mixed Network),” not the option, “Internal cluster communications only (private network).”

Explanation: In most cases, the private “heartbeat” connection between the nodes of a cluster is a cross-over cable (generally between two nodes of a two-node cluster) or a small hub or switch (when more than two nodes exist in a cluster. This network is completely separate from the “public” network and is only used for cluster node communications.

When configuring the private network, if you choose the option “All Communications (Mixed Network),” this means that should the private network go down,that the communications between the nodes in the cluster will not fail, instead moving over the public network. This is an added layer of redundancy that has helped me out in more than one occasion.

If you choose the “Internal cluster communications only (private network)” option, and the private connection fails, your primary node will not be able to failover to a secondary node if it should fail.

Version: Windows 2000, SQL Server 7.0, SQL Server 2000

Date Added: 11-26-2002


Tip: In addition to using Cluster Administrator to manage your Windows 2000 clustering, you can also use the Cluster Administrator Command Line option instead.

Explanation: Sometimes, it is more convenient to manage clustering using the Cluster Administrator Command Line tool instead of using the GUI-based Cluster Administrator. For example, let’s say you want to schedule a task for the evening, when there are less users on the cluster. This is great, except you can’t schedule a task using the GUI Cluster Administrator. But if you use the Command Line version, you can. You can create the command as part of a batch file, then schedule the batch file to run using the Windows 2000 scheduler, or other scheduling tool.

To run the Command Line version of the Cluster Administrator, you must go the the command prompt and type in:

cluster [options]

If you have never used the cluster.exe command (the Command Line version of Cluster Administrator), you must take some time to learn the various options needed to accomplish your goal. You can list the options by typing in the following at the command line:

cluster /?

This will display all of the available command line options. As you might imagine, some of these are a little obscure and you will need to look them up. But once you do, you may find using the Command Line version of the Cluster Administrator very handy.

Version: NT Server Enterprise 4.0, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, SQL Server 7.0, SQL Server 2000

Date Added: 12-27-2002


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