P2V SQL 2008 failover cluster using vSphere

So I tried a rather untypical SQL cluster installation. Moreover I was tempted by all the new versions. So my target configuration was this:

  • DELL Equallogic iSCSI SAN
  • 1 node a physical machine
  • 2nd node a virtual machine on VMWare vSphere4
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Failover Cluster
  • SQL Server 2008 SP1 installation in cluster

As expected such a bundle of new products worked less than great together. You can make it work but, there are many tweaks needed. I ended up with the same configuration but running on WS2008SP2 instead R2. Here are a couple of tips:

  • If you want to use VMWare in a P2V cluster, VMWare does not support MPIO in such a configuration when using VMWare’s Raw Device Mapping. So we decided just to expose iSCSI directly to the VM by using Windows iSCSI initiator inside the VM (maybe less performing, but a more robust approach)
  • Secondly, if you want an “aggregation” rather then HA-only iSCSI MPIO setup, then you need to install DELL’s Equallogic Host Integration Toolkit available from https://www.equallogic.com/support. Note: to run on WS2008R2 you need v3.3 which is an early production version (but worked for us OK).
  • Next, if you want to install SQL Server 2008 on Windows 2008 Failver cluster you should slipstream the SQL installation with SP1  (on R2 it won’t install at all, on Standard WS08 cluster I had and error and had to reinstall with a slipstreamed version)
  • On vSphere4 Windows 2008 R2 is incompatible with VMWare Tools (you can omit installing them or install them but WITHOUT the video driver – it will freeze your VM).

So my recommendation is to go for fully physical clusters, or fully virtual and stay away from P2V configurations. Additionally wait for full SQL2008 on WS2008R2 and WS2008R2 on VMWare (supposed to be some patch available soon) support.

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~ by alipka on October 24, 2009.

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