Guides Clusters - DO TRY it at home

Clusters – DO TRY it at home

by Marcin PolichtClusters for the frugal

If you intend to set up a cluster using either Windows NT 4.0 Server Enterprise Edition with Microsoft Cluster Server or Windows 2000 Advanced Server, you will have to make sure that your hardware complies with Hardware Compatibility List – you can take a look at my other clustering
article for more details (Clustering Tips). This type of setup is
rather expensive since it requires an external SCSI or Fibre attached storage device and two practically identical servers (not something you would attempt to set up as part of your home lab). However, Microsoft provides a workaround, which allows setting up a cluster
using both Windows NT 4.0 Server Enterprise Edition and Windows 2000 Advanced Server without any type of shared storage. Here are the steps that allow you to accomplish this task:

In both cases, your server will need to be part of a domain and you will have to
create a domain account with appropriate set of priviledges – again, for specifics, go to the article mentioned above. Even though in a “regular” clustering environment, your server should have dual NICs (one for so called “interconnect” between the servers, the other for public network connection), in this case you might as well use a single one. 

With Windows NT 4.0 Server EE, you need to use the second CD which contains MSCS folder with clustering software. From
MSCSi386 (or MSCSalpha – if you happen to operate on alpha platform) run:
setup -localquorum.

This will take you through the clustering setup and you will end up with a cluster with
the “Local quorum” resource and “Local quorum” group. The quorum will be stored in the same location as the clustering software – by default in %SystemRoot%ClusterMSCS directory. 

In case of Windows 2000 Advanced Server, from Control Panel, first select Add/Remove Programs, then Add/Remove Windows Components.
Once the Cluster Configuration Wizard appears, click Cancel to exit. Then from %SystemRoot%Cluster folder, run 
cluscfg -localquorum
This will start the Wizard again, but this time complete all the steps by providing requested information. 

The setup is practically identical to the one that you go through when dealing
with shared storage, with the exception of the part which prompts you for the location of the quorum
(at which point you specify the shared device). Although the full functionality of the cluster (such as failover) is obviously not available (your cluster consists of a single node with a non-shared quorum), but
this setup allows you to take a closer look at other cluster features. In addition, if you are developer, you can test your Cluster-aware applications without sinking thousands of dollars into
a development lab.

However, keep in mind, that this configuration is UNSUPPORTED in a production environment. So don’t try it at work…

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