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Step-by-Step Guide to Clustering Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000


In my last

article, I spoke extensively about the theory behind clustering a Windows 2000

and SQL Server machine. This week, I’ll detail how to actually accomplish this

task in a step-by-step guide. In this guide, I’ll use Windows 2000 Advanced

Server with SQL Server 2000 Enterprise to create an Active/Active cluster. These

two software components are the minimum requirement in a 2000 environment to

cluster SQL Server 2000. If you have not read my article on Clustering

SQL Server 2000 from 500 Feet, I would recommend that you do so before moving

forward since this guide will use terms that I assume you know from the last


Common question: One of the number one questions I received after writing this article was how do you do an Active/Passive cluster. Essentially, you can follow this guide to cluster your SQL Server but stop before you add the second SQL Server. That's all it takes!

Note: As with any type of configuration and installation,

there are multiple ways of doing this. I will show you towards the end of this

article how I configure clustering for optimal performance. This may not be the

best method of optimizing things in your environment.

Tip: Before attempting clustering, I would recommend

that you install service pack 2 for Windows 2000. There are a number of bug

fixes between the two service packs related to clustering.

Goal #1 – Cluster Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Before we

even install SQL Server, you will want to ensure that your Windows environment

is successfully installed and clustered. Although it is possible to cluster SQL

Server after it is installed, it makes it much easier if you have already have

this piece complete. If you already have this part done, SQL Server will

automatically detect that it is in a clustered environment when you try to

install it. Before you begin, make sure all of your drives you plan to share are

formatted. You will also want to ensure that your network is fully configured.

  1. Create

    an account for Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) to use. This account will need to be a domain account and be

    an administrator. Make sure you make the password non-expiring.

  2. Stop

    the second node that will be  in

    the cluster.

    This is only a precaution and is generally not required.

  3. Add

    the Cluster Service component.

    You can do this by going to Control Panel, clicking on Add/Remove Programs,

    and then clicking on Windows Components. Click on Cluster Service as shown

    below. Notice that some components of Internet Information Services (IIS)

    are also added when you click Cluster Services. This small component of IIS

    is required for Cluster Services to work properly.

Note: When

you install Windows 2000, you can also check this box when choosing your

components to install. After Windows boots up for the first time, you’ll be

able to launch the wizard by going to Control Panel and click on Add/Remove

Programs. The Configure Clustering option will be highlighted.


  1. When

    you click Next, this will start the Cluster Service Configuration Wizard.

    Click Next to continue in the wizard. This will take you to the Hardware

    Configuration screen. You will need to make sure that all the equipment in

    your cluster is on the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). After looking at http://www.microsoft.com/hwtest/hcl

    to confirm this, click I Understand and then Next.

  2. You

    will then need to select that this is the first node in the cluster.

    By doing this, you’re creating a new cluster. The next node is much easier

    to configure because you’ll only have to select the last option and much

    of the configuration is read from the first node.



  1. You

    will now need to provide a name for your cluster. This name will be used by many Windows tools like Performance

    Monitor to designate the “floating” name for the cluster. If one machine

    fails in your cluster, this name will move to the surviving node. I’ve

    chosen the name CLUSTEREXAMPLE for this article.

  2. Next,

    specify the account we created in Step 1. This account will be used to start the Cluster services.

  3. After

    clicking Next, specify each of the shared drives that you’d like to

    cluster. Each

    drive you specify is then managed by MSCS. I would recommend that you allow

    all the shared drives to be managed my MSCS. Otherwise you risk corruption

    of the drives. By default, all the drives will be selected but if you wish

    to add more or remove some drives you can highlight the drives and click Add

    or Remove. After you’ve added all the drives you need, click Next.




  1. Specify

    your quorum drive.

    The Quorum drive holds log files and health information about your cluster.

    If one node fails, the surviving node depends on the quorum drive to start

    the services. For simplicity, I always call my quorum drive the Q drive. It

    should be about 815 MB in size typically, although much of that space will

    go unused. After selecting the drive, click Next.

  2. You

    now must configure the cluster’s network. Read the message about the types of networks that can be

    configured and click Next. Essentially, you can configure the cluster to

    communicate over a private network and/or a public network. I prefer to have

    the heartbeat connection over a private network for security and everything

    else go over the public network.

  3. Configure

    each network card.

    You will be presented a screen to configure each network connection. To use

    the each network connection, click the Enable This Network For Cluster Use

    and then select the type of use it will have. For example, if you want all

    traffic to go out on a single network card, select All Communication (mixed

    network). If you only configure you cluster for one connection, you will

    receive a warning stating that you now have a single-point of failure.

    Acknowledge the warning to proceed.

  4. The

    last step in this node is to specify a virtual IP address for the cluster.

    You will also need to specify the subnet for the IP address and which

    connection will be used by clients to connect to the cluster.



  1. You’re

    now done with the first node! Not too bad, is it? Now click Finish to

    complete the wizard and acknowledge that the service was successfully

    started. No reboot is required after installing a cluster.

  2. Boot

    up any servers that need to be in the cluster.

  3. Repeat

    the same steps on the second node to launch the wizard again. This time select the Second Node option as shown in

    Step 5. By selecting that option and specifying a security account for

    Windows to use, the wizard will read the configuration from the first node

    and almost automatically configure itself.

Goal #2 – Configure the Cluster


installing the cluster on both nodes, you have also created a new tool called

the Cluster Administrator. With this tool, you can configure your cluster for

optimal use. You can run the tool like you do most other tools in Windows 2000,

by going to Control Panel and selecting Administrative Tools. When you first run

Cluster Administrator, you’ll notice that the cluster is configured awkwardly.

By default, each shared disk you assigned earlier resides in its own group under



prefer to keep similar resources together. Drives that I see that will be

primarily used by a SQL Server on Server1 will be grouped together and likewise

for Server2’s drives. With that in mind, I create two new groups: Server1 and

Server2. I then place the drives from each independent group into one of the two

groups. You’ll also notice that there is a Cluster Group where the quorum

drive resides. Leave this group alone.


Cluster Administrator, if you get lost, right-click. For example to move the

drive to one of the two groups right click on the resource and click Move to New

Group. Then, specify which group you’d like to move to. Once you have all the

drives except the quorum drive moved to one of the two new groups, delete the

empty groups. You can then test a failover by right clicking on the group and

selecting Move Group. You will then see the resources fail, go to Online

Pending, then to Online on the new server. 


may also want to configure the primary owner of each drive. You can do this by

right-clicking on the resource and clicking Properties. Which group you place

your resources in is very important. A resource can only act as a dependent on

another resource that is in the same cluster group.


Goal #3 – Install SQL Server

So far,

we’ve only clustered the drives but nothing more. Let’s make this a little

interesting by adding some added resources like MS DTC and SQL Server. In

installing SQL Server there are only a few additional steps that you may not be

used to. Before we begin, make sure each of your nodes is online.  

  1. Install

    MS DTC separately.

    To install the clustered version of MS DTC, go to a command line and type

    comclust (it will be in your path). You will see the MS DTC resource created

    as shown below. This resource is located in the Cluster Group in Cluster

    Administrator. Perform the same action on the any other nodes in the cluster

    as well.



  1. Start

    installing SQL Server 2000 as you would normally. The first unusual screen you will see is where you

    normally specify if you’re going to install locally or remotely. You now

    have an added option of a Virtual Server.



  1. After

    you step through the license agreement, you will be asked to specify an

    IP address and subnet for your virtual SQL Server name. Type the virtual

    IP address and the subnet will automatically fill itself in for you. Next,

    select the network connection to use then click Add. That will transfer the

    data to the bottom box.

  2. You

    will then need to specify the drives where the data files will be

    placed as shown below. You will only see drives that the node owns. If

    there is a drive that you don’t see in this list, go back to Cluster

    Administrator and move the group over to the server where you’re

    installing SQL Server. When click Back to go back a screen in the

    installation wizard then Next to refresh the list of drives. There is a bug

    in the installation wizard that you will need to watch carefully here. If

    you specify a drive here, the wizard pretty much ignores the drive selection

    and you will need to manually re-select the drive in a moment.



  1. In

    the Cluster Definition screen, you will need to specify which nodes SQL

    Server will be installed on.

  2. You

    then need to specify an administrative account for the cluster. Again, I would use the clustacct that we

    established in Step 1 of Goal 1.

  3. Specify

    an instance name.

    If this is the first SQL Server in the cluster, then you can make it the

    default instance. If this is the second instance in your cluster, you must

    use an instance name and a different virtual server name a few steps ago.

    There are special notes about this in my previous article.

  4. Confirm

    the directories and type of installation. Again, there is a bug in the wizard that will require you to

    possibly change the Data Files option again. The wizard will default to the

    first drive in the group so if you wish to specify a new drive, change it


  5. Continue

    the installation as you would normally in SQL Server. The rest of the installation is exactly like the

    normal installation path. The only difference is when SQL Server goes to

    copy the files, you cannot see the progress because it’s copying the files

    and configuring both nodes. This process may take up to 15 minutes so be

    patient. Don’t assume that nothing is happening on the server.

  6. Reboot

    both servers.

    Reboot the server where you installed SQL Server from first, followed by the

    second node.


rebooting the servers you can install SQL Server on the second node. Install it

exactly the same way but you’ll need to assign another virtual SQL Server name

and IP address. You’ll also need to use and instance name for the second node.

There are special notes in my previous article about using an instance name. I

would recommend rebooting one more time after you’ve installed the second

instance, although it is not required.

After that, you're ready to install Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2000.


Goal #4 – Configuring the Cluster for SQL Server

SQL Server

is now running on both instances. If you’ve installed two instances of SQL

Server (one on each node), then you’re running in Active/Active mode. You’re

now ready to go to Cluster Administrator and perform the final configuration

steps for SQL Server. By default, if you’re using multiple shared drives, SQL

Server in a cluster will not be optimally configured.


configure the resources properly, open Cluster Administrator and go to your

first server’s group that you installed SQL Server on. If you’re running

multiple data drives for a SQL Server, they will not be accessible until you

make the SQL Server service a dependency on these drives. In other words, you

can’t place backups or any data files on the M drive until the SQL Server

service is set as dependency to the M drive. You wouldn’t want the SQL Server

service starting until all your drives are ready. To make the SQL Server service

dependent on the drives, you must first fail the service by right-clicking on

the SQL Server service in Cluster Manager (shown below) and select Failover. You

can then right-click on the SQL Server service here and select properties.

You will

notice by going to the Dependencies tab that the service is only dependent on

the primary data drive and the virtual SQL Server name. To add additional

resources click Modify.


As you can

see below, I’ve made the SQL Server service additionally dependent on the M

and N drive by selecting the drives then clicking the à

button. After you’ve added your resources click OK.


You will

then need to restart the SQL Server service by right-clicking on the service and

selecting Start. Now, all the drives you specified will be available to

Enterprise Manager and T-SQL. To complete the configuration, you can perform the

same action on the second node if necessary.


now completed the basic clustering of SQL Server and Windows 2000! For

additional help on this topic, you can post questions in the In

The Enterprise forum. In future articles, I will discuss how to cluster

Analysis Services, which is not nearly as simple as clustering SQL Server. 




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