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Get IT Done: Install and configure Windows clustering in VMware

Configure Windows clustering with VMware

Among its many uses, VMware can provide an excellent environment for staging and testing Windows clustering. Previously, I explained how to prepare VMware to install and configure clustering. Now, I will walk you through the installation of Windows clustering in VMware and show you how to test your configuration once it is complete.

Getting started
Prior to installing clustering, you must have the following configured in VMware:
  • DNS entries
  • Domain account
  • Private network configuration
  • Public network configuration

Let's take a closer look at each of these prerequisites.

DNS entries
To properly install clustering, you must configure a DNS entry on your Active Directory-based Domain Controller (DC) with the name and IP address of your cluster. For the purposes of this article, I have created a Host record called "mycluster" with an IP address of 192.168.1.75.

Domain account
For a cluster to work in a domain, you must create a domain user account. During the installation of clustering, this account is given local administrator rights to each node as well. In this example, I have created a domain user account called "cluster."

Private network configuration
For clustering to work properly, you must configure two network cards on each VMware virtual server. The private network allows for communication between each node, which is commonly known as the heartbeat.

To add a network card, open VMware from the Start menu. Next, choose Configuration Editor from the Settings menu. Now, choose Add and select Network Adapter. Click Next and select Bridged Connection. Finally, click Finish. The next time you power up your virtual server, it will have an additional network card. Repeat these steps on each virtual machine that will be part of the cluster. In my example, I have two virtual machines (swcluster1 and swcluster2).

After you add the additional network cards, you must configure them for the heartbeat connection. In my example, I have configured my heartbeat on node 1 (swcluster1) with the IP address 10.1.1.2. On node 2 (swcluster2), I have configured the IP address as 10.1.1.3.

When setting up the static IP address, it is also important that you click the Advanced tab in the TCP/IP Properties dialog box and choose Disable NetBIOS Over TCP/IP, as shown in Figure A. All cluster nodes communicate via TCP/IP only. If you do not choose this option, you may have problems with your node-to-node communication.

Figure A


Public network configuration
To configure your public network connection, right-click on your second network card and assign the appropriate IP address, DNS, and WINS settings. Next, verify connectivity by opening a command prompt and typing ipconfig /all (as shown in Figure B) on each node in the cluster to verify the configurations.

Figure B


When each node is properly configured with a private and a public network address and you have tested connectivity, it is time to make sure that each node is connected to the domain. To do this, simply right-click on My Computer, click the Network Identification tab (on both clustered machines), and verify that you are connected to the desired Active Directory domain.

Next, power down both nodes but leave the domain controller running. Before you begin to install clustering, you must know your virtual server name and the IP address you are assigning to the cluster. Remember that for this article, I have created a DNS entry called "mycluster" with an IP address of 192.168.1.75.

Installing Cluster Services on node 1
To begin the installation of Windows 2000 Cluster Services, power up node 1 of your cluster. Once that system boots up, log on to the domain and choose Add/Remove Programs from the Control Panel.

Select Add/Remove Windows Components and choose Cluster Service. Click Next and install the Cluster Service. You may be prompted to insert your Windows 2000 Advanced Server CD if you haven't copied the I386 directory to a local drive. Once the Cluster Service is installed, you'll see a welcome screen.

Click Next, and you can view the clustering hardware compatibility list (HCL). Click the I Understand button to advance to the next screen. Here, you must specify whether this is the first node in a cluster or you are joining an existing cluster. In this example, we are configuring the first node in the cluster. Click Next and type the name of the new cluster.

The following screen asks for the domain account you want to assign to this cluster. I will choose the domain account called "cluster" I created at the beginning of this article. If the domain account is not a member of the local administrators for that node, you will be prompted to add the member to that group. Choose Yes to continue.

On the next screen, you can specify drives on your shared array that are managed by the cluster (Figure C). By default, all drives are currently listed under Managed Disks. You can either accept the default or remove disks, if necessary. In this example, I have only a Quorum drive and a SQL Server partition.

Figure C


The Cluster File Storage screen allows you to tell the Cluster Service which disk will be the Quorum drive (Figure D). The Quorum disk holds the transaction logs and cluster status information for the cluster. Your Quorum drive should typically be a minimum of 100 MB. When partitioning their drives, most admins assign the letter Q to the Quorum drive.

Figure D


The next screen provides you with information regarding your public and private networks (Figure E). Read the information and click Next.

Figure E


On the private network screen, select Enable This Network For Cluster Use and choose the Internal Cluster Communications Only (Private Network) option. I named this connection "Heartbeat," as shown in Figure F.

Figure F


Click Next to advance to the public network screen. Select Enable This Network For Cluster Use and choose the All Communication (Mixed Network) option. Click Next.

The following screen allows you to choose which network card is used as the primary network for internal communications and which one is used as the backup network should the primary network fail (Figure G). Make sure that your private network or Heartbeat connection is first in the list and then click Next.

Figure G


Now you can enter the cluster IP address (Figure H). This serves as the IP address of your virtual cluster or server, and it should not be the same IP address of any other cluster, node, or device on your network. You'll also need to enter your subnet mask. After you do this, click Next and Finish. You are now ready to install node 2 of your cluster.

Figure H


Installing on node 2
Leave node 1 powered up and power up node 2. Follow the same process as before by installing the cluster service from Add/Remove Windows Components. The wizard will begin again by asking whether this is the first or second node of a cluster. Choose the second node in the cluster and click Next. Enter the name of the cluster you want to join and click Next.

Now, enter the service account password and click Next. If the account does not belong to the local administrator’s group, you'll be prompted to add it so you can continue. Click Finish, and you have successfully installed the cluster service on both nodes. It is now time to test your VMware configuration.

Testing your VMware cluster
Start by opening the Cluster Administrator (in Start | Programs | Administrative Tools) on each node in the cluster. On node 1, expand the Groups folder tree. Next, right-click on Disk Groups and choose Move Group (Figure I). You will see the group move to node 2.

Figure I


Now, we will simulate a failover by expanding the Groups folder and highlighting Disk Group 1. In the details pane, right-click on the disk and choose Initiate Failure (Figure J).

Figure J


You will see some activity, and the status will return to normal. This happens because the cluster will try three times to correct itself before it fails over to the next node. So to test this process, you must choose Initiate Failure four times.

Next step
We'll stop here for now to let you play around with VMware and Windows 2000 clustering. In my next article, we'll look at installing and testing SQL Server 2000 on a VMware cluster.
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