Failing to plan is planning to fail
Designing and deploying high availability solutions takes a lot of preparation and planning. Whenever I do presentations that involve demos of creating SQL Server failover clustered instances (FCIs) and Availability Groups (AGs,) I emphasize that while the demo only takes less than 20 minutes to complete, it takes more time to prepare and plan. That is because there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of different people involved. Take for instance when deploying a SQL Server FCI. I need to know the following before I can even start building the cluster:
- a cluster name object (CNO) in Active Directory for the WSFC
- a virtual IP address for the CNO
- shared storage and drive letter assignments for use with the SQL Server FCI
- hostnames and IP addresses of the nodes in my cluster
- a virtual computer object (VCO) name in Active Directory for my SQL Server virtual server name
- a virtual IP address for the VCO
This is just a subset of the list of things that I need. With this, I have an idea of who I need to talk to in terms of coordination and dependencies. I know that I need to talk to my Active Directory domain administrator to grant me the appropriate permissions for creating the objects. I know that I need to talk to my network engineers for the IP addresses and the appropriate firewall rules. I know I need to talk to my storage engineers for the disk allocation.
Because I constantly work with customers on designing and deploying SQL Server FCIs and AGs, I created a simple spreadsheet that I refer to as the Cluster Preparation Checklist to make the planning a bit easier for me. After the initial requirements gathering, I send the spreadsheet to the different teams responsible for the components that make up the WSFC. When all of the details in the spreadsheet have been filled in, I create a draft of the architecture diagram including the specifics that have been written on the spreadsheet. This makes the job of the architect and engineer easier come deployment time. The design then becomes a part of the operations runbook for reference.
I encourage you to download the cluster preparation checklist and make it your own. Use it as part of your documentation, add more worksheets as necessary and include it on all of your deployments. Whether you’re deploying SQL Server FCIs, AGs or a combination of both – be it on premise or on the cloud – the checklist guides the deployment and makes it so much easier. In fact, I used the data in the spreadsheet as parameter values in my automated deployment.
Should you make changes to the spreadsheet, feel free to share it with the community.
Feeling helpless and confused when dealing with Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) for your SQL Server databases?
You’re not alone. I’ve heard the same thing from thousands of SQL Server administrators throughout my entire career. These are just a few of them.
“How do I properly size the server, storage, network and all the AD settings which we do not have any control over?”
“I don’t quite understand how the Windows portion of the cluster operates and interacts with what SQL controls.”
“I’m unfamiliar with multi-site clustering.”
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