Book Image

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 High Availability

By : Hemantgiri S. Goswami
Book Image

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 High Availability

By: Hemantgiri S. Goswami

Overview of this book

<p>Every business has it's mission critical applications and data. Therefore, it is very important to keep database servers up and running all the time – 24 X 7. There is a need to store and process terabytes of data to cater for business needs, and it is vital to make data highly available.<br /><br />High availability is all about the site being accessible all the time. High availability solutions minimize the downtime for these mission critical applications.</p> <p>Microsoft SQL Server is a powerful relational database engine, widely used to store and maintain data in Enterprises of various levels be they small, medium or large.</p> <p>This book will teach you how best to use these readily-available options and save you time in making your websites highly available.<br /><br />This Microsoft SQL Server 2008 High Availability book will take you through pre and post installation concepts and common issues you come across while working with SQL Server HA. It will teach you how these various HA solutions can be installed using GUI and the command line. It will also show you how to troubleshoot common issues you may encounter whilst installing or managing the HA option in your environment. It provides references to external links for more advanced learning on the topic.<br /><br />This book starts with an introductory chapter into the windows domain, domain users and various handshake methods available with Windows server. It also offers information the different authentication methods available with SQL Server - giving you an insight into the importance of security. After you are through with the security aspects, your journey to installing SQL Server HA will start. It will cover the concepts of database mirroring, log shipping, clustering, and replication.<br /><br />By the end of this book you will be confident enough to take up the challenge to install any of the SQL Server HA options.</p>
Table of Contents (18 chapters)
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 High Availability
About the Author
About the Reviewers

What is clustering?

Before starting with SQL Server clustering, let's have a look at clustering in general and Windows clusters.

The word Cluster itself is self-descriptive — a bunch or group. When two or more than two computers are connected to each other by means of a network and share some of the common resources to provide redundancy or performance improvement, they are known as a cluster of computers.

Clustering is usually deployed when there is a critical business application running that needs to be available 24 X 7 or in terminology — High Availability. These clusters are known as Failover clusters because the primary goal to set up the cluster is to make services or business processes that are business critical available 24 X 7. MS Windows server Enterprise and Datacenter edition supports failover clustering. This is achieved by having two identical nodes connected to each other by means of private network or commonly used resources. In case of failure of any common resource or services, the first node (Active) passes the ownership to another node (Passive).

SQL Server Clustering is built on top of Windows Clustering, which means before we go about installing SQL Server clustering, we should have Windows clustering installed. Before we start, let's understand the commonly used shared resources for the cluster server.

Clusters with 2, 4, 8, 12 or 32 nodes can be built Windows Server 2008 R2. Clusters are categorized in the following manner:

  • High-Availability Clusters:

    This type of cluster is known as a Failover cluster. High Availability clusters are implemented when the purpose is to provide highly available services.

    For implementing a failover or high availability cluster one may have up to 16 nodes in a Microsoft Cluster. Clustering in Windows operating systems was first introduced with the release of Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition, and was enhanced gradually. Even though we can have non-identical hardware, we should use identical hardware. This is because if the node to which cluster fails over has lower configuration, then we might face degradation in performance.

  • Load Balancing:

    This is the second form of cluster that can be configured. This type of cluster can be configured by linking multiple computers with each other and making use of each resource they need for operation. From the user's point of view, all of these servers/nodes linked to each other are different. However, it is collectively and virtually a single system, with the main goal being to balance work by sharing CPU, disk, and every possible resource among the linked nodes and that is why it is known as a Load Balancing cluster


    SQL Server doesn't support this form of clustering.

  • Compute Clusters:

    When computers are linked together with the purpose of using them for simulation for aircraft, they are known as a compute cluster. A well-known example is Beowulf computers.

  • Grid Computing:

    This is one kind of clustering solution, but it is more often used when there is a dispersed location. This kind of cluster is called a Supercomputer or HPC. The main application is scientific research, academic, mathematical, or weather forecasting where lots of CPUs and disks are required — SETI@home is a well-known example.

    If we talk about SQL Server clusters, there are some cool new features that are added in the latest release of SQL Server 2008, although with the limitation that these features are available only if SQL Server 2008 is used with Windows Server 2008. So, let's have a glance at these features:

    • Service SID: Service SIDs were introduced with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. They enable us to bind permissions directly to Windows services. In the earlier version of SQL Server 2005, we need to have a SQL Server Services account that is a member of a domain group so that it can have all the required permissions. This is not the case with SQL Server 2008 and we may choose Service SIDs to bypass the need to provision domain groups.

    • Support for 16 nodes: We may add up to 16 nodes in our SQL Server 2008 cluster with SQL Server 2008 Enterprise 64-bit edition.

    • New cluster validation: As a part of the installation steps, a new cluster validation step is implemented. Prior to adding a node into an existing cluster, this validation step checks whether or not the cluster environment is compatible.

    • Mount Drives: Drive letters are no longer essential. If we have a cluster configured that has limited drive letters available, we may mount a drive and use it in our cluster environment, provided it is associated with the base drive letter.

    • Geographically dispersed cluster node: This is the super-cool feature introduced with SQL Server 2008, which uses VLAN to establish connectivity with other cluster nodes. It breaks the limitation of having all clustered nodes at a single location.

    • IPv6 Support: SQL Server 2008 natively supports IPv6, which increases network IP address size to 128 bit from 32 bit.

    • DHCP Support: Windows server 2008 clustering introduced the use of DHCP-assigned IP addresses by the cluster services and it is supported by SQL Server 2008 clusters. It is recommended to use static IP addresses. This is because if some of our application depends on IP addresses, or in case of failure of renewing IP address from DHCP server, there would be a failure of IP address resources.

    • iSCSI Support: Windows server 2008 supports iSCSI to be used as storage connection; in earlier versions, only SAN and fibre channels were supported.