Dismantle a Windows Cluster and do Manual Failover

Posted on 2009-04-29
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
I have a client that has two Dell Windows 2003 servers (let's call them SERVER1 and SERVER2) and an MD3000 storage array.  Everything is setup in a two node cluster with three disk volumes on the storage array mounted to the active node through the cluster.  As this client's needs are changing, we are trying to figure out a way to assign more services to the passive node, but experience has taught me that installing stand alone services to either of a cluster node is a bad idea.

Currently, the recovery time in the event of active node failure is approximately 2 hours, due to limitations of the applications that are running on the servers, they require some manual intervention and configurations on the passive node to redeploy and return to 100% availability.  With that in mind, the question came up "What if we remove cluster serivces and just manually re-mount the volumes on the storage array to SERVER2 in the event of failure of SERVER1, and thus freeing up SERVER2 to run some new applications and services while on standby for a SERVER1 failure?"  The manual process of redeployment of application on SERVER2 would not take much more time than the current condition.

What is the implications within the Windows operating system to making these changes?  Would a re-installation of Windows be required?  Is there any other issues that may arise that would steer us away from doing this?  Here is the services running in clustered mode:

3 physical disk volumes
 - Quorom disk
 - Data volume
 - SQL volume (SQL server is not part of the cluster)
2 file shares
DHCP Server

What would be the best route to accomplish the following:
 - Take apart the custer,
 - Maintain the Data and SQL volumes on the storage unit
 - Re-mount those volumes manually to SERVER1
 - Move DHCP server to one single server
Question by:forthphaze
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    What I would do is:
    • remove Server2 from the cluster
    • Leave clustering on Server 1
    • Create a new cluster on Server 2,
      • create a new Quorum on the shared drive for Server 2
    You'd need to do some manually swapping of the shared drive setting this up, but it minimises disruption. You would effectively mirror the Cluster on Server1 onto Server2
    In the event of failure attach the shared drive to Server 2 and start clustering services
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    So in this scenario, if SERVER1 fails, and the volumes are no longer mounted, once I fire up clustering services on SERVER2, it will mount those volumes?  I would then just force a re-map of network drives on workstations to the \\NEWCLUSTER\SHARES and finish the application deployment?

    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    Yup. As long as there is a physical link to those drives.
    Think about it this way: you effectively have an inactive cluster sitting on Server2 waiting for the drives to become available. I'm not sure if it would work, but you could even consider naming 'Cluster2' the same as 'Cluster1' and this way the shares would not need to be changed.
    Also, if you decide to increase the fault tolerance of the 'clusters' then everything is already in place.
    It's important to keep the two 'clusters' separate though - hence mounting the quorum somewhere away from the original. Make sure clustering on 1 is OFF when testing 2, and so on.

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