SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Group Environmental Setup

Continuing from AlwaysOn Part 1 the series continues with a step-by-step guide to setting up the environment for an AlwaysOn availability group.
In this article we will break down AlwaysOn environment preparation into three steps :

  1. Installation of SQL Server 2012 on each node/replica/server.
  2. Installation of the failover clustering feature on each node/replica/server.
  3. Creation of a failover cluster and joining all nodes/replicas/servers to the cluster.

Installation of SQL Server 2012 on Each Node/Replica

You need to install SQL Server 2012 on each node/replica/instance that you want to include in an availability group. Click on New SQL Server stand-alone installation or Add feature to an existing installation link on the SQL Server Installation Center screen as shown below (please note, even though the availability group feature is based on WSFC, you will need to do a standard installation of SQL Server, not the one which is used for SQL Server failover clustering by clicking on the second link New SQL Server failover cluster installation or third link Add node to a SQL Server failover cluster in the screenshot below :

Note that even though AlwaysOn availability group is based on Windows Server Failover Cluster, it is still not the same as traditional SQL Server failover clustering and so we need to do a stand-alone installation as opposed to a failover cluster installation.

Installating Failover Clustering on Each Node/Replica

You also need to install Failover Clustering feature of the Operating System on each node/replica by using Initial Configuration Tasks or Server Manager. Open Server Manager (Start -> Administrative Tools -> Server Manager), click Features on the left under Server Manager node and then under Features Summary, click the Add Features link as shown below:

In the Add Features Wizard, check Failover Clustering as shown below and then click Next button to forward in the installation process (if this feature is already installed you can skip this step):

On the Confirmation Installation Selections page of the Add Features Wizard, click the Install button as shown below to start the installation of selected feature:

As previously noted, you will need to repeat this process (installation of failover cluster feature) on all the nodes/servers/replicas that you want to be part of AlwaysOn availability group. Installation of the failover cluster feature does not create a cluster but instead installs the necessary parts.

Also note that the failover clustering feature is only available with the Enterprise and Datacenter editions of the OS and not with Standard and Web editions.

Create a Failover Cluster and Join All Nodes/Replicas To The Cluster

Once you have installed failover clustering feature on each of the nodes/servers, you can now create a Windows failover cluster and include these nodes to this cluster. Open Failover Cluster Manager (Start -> Administrative Tools -> Failover Cluster Manager), and click Create a Cluster link as shown below:

As indicated in the Create Cluster Wizard you need to be local administrators on each of the servers/nodes which you want to be part of the cluster. It’s highly recommended to run the validation test for your configuration to ensure that hardware and hardware settings are compatible for Windows failover clustering or cluster creation. Click Next continue with the installation:

On the Select Servers page of the Create Cluster Wizard, you need to add all your servers/nodes to the the Windows Failover Cluster and the click Next to continue, in this example I have two servers/nodes (ARSHAD-PC and ARSHAD-LP):

On the Validation Warning page of the Create Cluster Wizard, you can validate the hardware and hardware configurations of all the servers involved including network and storage. It’s highly recommended that you perform a validation test before you actually create a windows failover cluster although it is not mandatory.

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On the next screen you need to provide name of your Windows Failover Cluster that as shown below, in my case I have used AlwaysOnDemo as the name:

The next screen is basically a confirmation or review page where you can review your selections/inputs provided during the wizard, if everything looks fine, click Next to start creating the cluster:

Windows failover cluster creation and configuration may take some time, the next screen shows a progress bar and some information on the installation:

The final screen of the wizard shows the final results of Windows failover cluster creation and configuration, you can click on View Report to see the report or click Finish to close the Create Cluster Wizard:

Im the next article we will look at creating and configuring the Availability Group]]>

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