How do I add a NAS share as a resource in a Windows Server 2003 cluster?

Posted on 2006-10-27
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
I've scoured the internet for the better part of two days and have not found ONE example of how you configure a NAS device as a shared resource.  Sure, there are plenty of articles stating that it can be done (many on this forum) but no one says how.  

So here's the setup: two identical servers with mnr quorum on local drives and one NAS box that doesn't support iSCSI.  I can't seem to find where or how I would add a UNC as a share in the cluster admin.

I know what I have to do after I install SQL 2005 on the cluster but it won't start until there is a shared disk resource.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Question by:piaccarino
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Short answer: you can NOT add a UNC path as cluster ressource; you need a NAS that supports iSCSI. To protect access to a shared disk, the server requires block-level access to the device, and that's just not possible with a UNC path.
Network-Attached Storage and Server Cluster Support

Long answer: two identical machines do NOT make a cluster. If you really require the enhanced uptime you can achieve with a server cluster, invest into a certified solution (and note that the *complete* configuration has to be certified, not just the single components!). Using uncertified hardware is likely to leave you with the opposite of what you wanted to have, and that is increased downtime, trying to fix errors.
The Microsoft support policy for server clusters, the Hardware Compatibility List, and the Windows Server Catalog

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I'm not new to clustering, just to this situation.  It's a client where someone told them this would work with the old NAS filer, I'm just trying to make it happen.

I remember a client who had a 2000 Advanced cluster with SQL 7 using a NetApp with only CIFS...  Pre-dates iSCSI by about 5 years, so there has to be some sort of whitepaper floating around.  Anyone with NOW access want to chime in?

I may propose a different route:  Decouple the cluster, install SQL and move the data to the NAS, and then use something like DoubleTake to replicate the servers.

However, at that point it may just pay to buy an iSCSI compatible NAS device and stick with the original plan.

And come on now, I'm sure you've been in the industry for a while...  Just because a company doesn't pay to have a "certified" sticker on their hardware doesn't mean it isn't going to work :)
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For one, there's still a slight difference between being on the HCL for some single server system and for a cluster; a cluster is somewhat more delicate.
And, yes, you can get a cluster to work without certified hardware, but that's only good for test purposes (and not necessary anymore since Virtual Server), not for a production environment. If a company requires the enhanced uptime provided by a cluster for mission critical data, then the availability of that critical data should be worth it to invest into certified hardware. If you implement a cluster with some off-the-shelf components, and it exhibits erratic behaviour (including data damage on the shared resource), well, the critical data isn't accessible anymore, and Microsoft won't help, either. This can easily cost more than an initial investment into certified hardware.
Anyway, it's *physically* impossible to use a mapped drive as a shared drive resource; the KB 309186 article linked in my first link explains why. No amount of tweaking will be able to turn SMB into SCSI commands.
If they don't want to invest into the hardware, then the safer solution is definitely to run the machines independently, using the second server as backup.

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