Hyperv Server host clustering - licensing question

I have a 2003 network with a file server/DC, an Exchange Server and a Terminal Server that I am planning to virtualize on HyperV Server 2008 R2 and host cluster. (Please note that I am talking specifically of host clustering throughout this post - I know about HyperV clustering as well but I am not interested in that avenue at this point.)  I have evaluated the hardware requirements of the servers I would need to be able to host the three VM's and also the SAN.  What I am not sure about is the licensing.  HyperV server is 'free' and as I have licenses for the 2003 servers I do not need any licenses there. It is my understanding however that I need for the purposes of host clustering to have the two HyperV nodes members of a domain. So does that mean I have to have a third computer that will act as the DC for the two HyperV servers - i.e. they will be members of that domain?  If that's the case what is the minimum OS I have to run on this third box?  From what I have read only 2008 Enterprise Server or DataCentre R2 supports clustering - Standard and Web do not.  So will I need to run 2008 Enterprise Server R2 on this third box?  Note that I am not planning to migrate from 2003 to 2008 any time soon so I have no need of 2008 server  - regular or Enterprise - at this time.  If this is the case the statement  that HyperV server is free and that it includes clustering is a bit misleading if the only way I can implement clustering is to get an Enterprise or Data Centre 2008 license and a computer to run it on.
lineonecorpAsked:
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jakethecatukCommented:
[lineonecorp quote]What I am not sure about is the licensing.  HyperV server is 'free' and as I have licenses for the 2003 servers I do not need any licenses there.[end quote]  
Be careful with the 2003 licenses - if the OS came pre-installed it's likely to be an OEM version and that cannot be reused on another server.

[lineonecorp quote]It is my understanding however that I need for the purposes of host clustering to have the two HyperV nodes members of a domain.

So does that mean I have to have a third computer that will act as the DC for the two HyperV servers - i.e. they will be members of that domain? [end quote]
Didn't we cover this in a different question?  Anyway, for ease of use and management - making them part of a domain is preferable as management permissions will be inherited from the domain.  If you don't make them part of a domain, you will have to create local accounts on both servers for management, grant them the necessary rights to manage each other (for clustering), manually configure all the firewall rules etc...the list goes on.  In my opinion, making them part of a domain is mandatory and if you choose not to go down the domain route, you run the risk of giving yourself a massive headache later.

[lineonecorp quote]If that's the case what is the minimum OS I have to run on this third box?  [end quote]
You can use Windows 2003 Standard or later.  However, if it's going to be your management station for your HYPER-V setup, I'd go with 2008 Standard.

[lineonecorp quote]From what I have read only 2008 Enterprise Server or DataCentre R2 supports clustering - Standard and Web do not.  So will I need to run 2008 Enterprise Server R2 on this third box? [end quote]
We covered this in another question as well.  The third server which will be your physical domain controller sits outside of any cluster you have planned for HYPER-V.  It is there to be a domain controller and possibly a management station if you so wish.  You do not need to have a cluster capable version of the OS on the third server.

[lineonecorp quote]If this is the case the statement  that HyperV server is free and that it includes clustering is a bit misleading if the only way I can implement clustering is to get an Enterprise or Data Centre 2008 license and a computer to run it on.[end quote]  
See previous answer and if you look at the Microsoft website for HYPER-V (http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx), you will see that it does support clustering.  So therefore, with HYPER-V you have everything you need for free (this is assuming that you already have an existing infrastructure to plug it into).
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lineonecorpAuthor Commented:
Yes, we sort of covered but when I got to thinking about it it seemed the specifics of the DC were not covered. And I still don't quite understand.

"The third server which will be your physical domain controller sits outside of any cluster you have planned for HYPER-V.  It is there to be a domain controller and possibly a management station if you so wish.  You do not need to have a cluster capable version of the OS on the third server."

If I don't have a cluster capable version of the OS does that mean I have to cluster through the command line on the HyperV servers? All the GUI stuff I have seen for clustering is the 2008 Enterprise Server GUI. So if all this box does is be a DC then I have no GUI available to me if I choose something like 2003 as the DC - and that still requires an additional 2003 license - which the last time I checked was actually more expensive than Windows 2008 Standard. If I want a DC plus management station in one shot as far as I know it has to be some version of Windows 2008 server. So the minimum cost effective solution seems to be an extra box with  2008 server to be  a DC and a management station. And what you are telling me is that I will be able to configure the cluster from this 2008 Standard box the same way I would from a 2008 Enterprise server even though 2008 Standard doesn't support clustering - but it has the GUI  for configuring it on HyperV servers?

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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
A cluster requires that you have a standalone system as has been indicated.

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is an excellent platform for building your cluster. There is some need to work with the command line and registry editor when you check the binding orders. Other than that, you can run the various steps in the Hyper-V Server Menu that comes up when you log into the node Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 OS.

On the standalone server you create an MMC that has each node's Computer Management MMC, Advanced Firewall MMC, the Hyper-V Management MMC, and the Failover Cluster Managment MMC.

You do all of your storage configuration, firewall tweaks if needed, and any other node specific preparation for the cluster via the custom MMC on your standalone.

Licensing for your VMs running on the cluster must be Retail (FPP) or Open License. OEM cannot be used since it is bound to a specific hardware set on _one_ node.

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is free. You need to license the OS and server products running as guests on the cluster individually.

For example:
 + Server 2008 R2 Standard x64
    + Exchange Server 2007
 + Server 2008 R2 Standard x64
    + SQL 2008 Standard x64
 + Server 2003 R2 Standard x86
    + ISA 2006

The above VM set would require the following using Open License:
 + 3x Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Licenses (downgrade for Server 2003)
 + Exchange 2007 License + CALs
 + SQL 2008 Standard License + CALs (or /CPU if Internet facing apps connected)

Philip
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jakethecatukCommented:
[lineonecorp quote]If I don't have a cluster capable version of the OS does that mean I have to cluster through the command line on the HyperV servers? All the GUI stuff I have seen for clustering is the 2008 Enterprise Server GUI. So if all this box does is be a DC then I have no GUI available to me if I choose something like 2003 as the DC - and that still requires an additional 2003 license - which the last time I checked was actually more expensive than Windows 2008 Standard. If I want a DC plus management station in one shot as far as I know it has to be some version of Windows 2008 server. So the minimum cost effective solution seems to be an extra box with  2008 server to be  a DC and a management station. And what you are telling me is that I will be able to configure the cluster from this 2008 Standard box the same way I would from a 2008 Enterprise server even though 2008 Standard doesn't support clustering - but it has the GUI  for configuring it on HyperV servers?[end quote]

On your management server (which we have established would be better off running 2008), you will need to go into Features, Remote Server Administration Tools and under Role Administration Tools and Feature Administration Tools, you wll need to select HYPER-V and Failover Clustering respectively.   These tools are available in all versions of 2008 Server and as a download for Vista/Windows 7.

Once the tools are installed, you can use Server Manager to connect to your 2008 Core servers and manage HYPER-V and Failover Clustering.
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lineonecorpAuthor Commented:
Here's a note that references this topic:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/winserverhyperv/thread/32eac569-f1e6-4415-b552-1c42e3cab865

From the above and what you fellows have been saying here is what I see as the cheapo vs the recommended practice alternatives assuming that I am using HyperV Server 2008 R2 for host clustering.
+++++++++++++++++
Cheapo

Clustered servers - 2 * $xxx

Clustered servers OS  = HyperV - 2008 R2 * 2 = free

DC software - required per your info and per the MS  forum reference at the beginning has to be 2008 Server R2 minimum  1 * $yyy  (possibly might even have to be 2008 Enterprise R2 - it's not clear in the article as that was not asked specifically)
Management station - DC is management station - no additional hardware/software

Cheapo configuration will load 2008 server as a VM on HyperV server

 - benefit - don't need additional computer

- downside - if HyperV server goes down and reboots HyperV cluster notes won't start as there is no DC to authenticate to

++++++++
Recommended/best  practice alternative:

Clustered servers - 2 * $xxx

Clustered servers OS  = HyperV - 2008 R2 * 2 = free

Computer to be DC server -- 1 * $XXX
OS for DC -  Server 2008  R2 (hopefully standard but possibly Enterprise) 1 * $yyy

Computer to be backup DC (best practice is to always have more than one DC) 1 * $xxx
OS for DC -  Server 2008  R2 (hopefully standard but possibly Enterprise) 1 $yyy
++++++++++++


Conclusion - HyperV Server doesn't 'do' clustering for free in best practice mode - - it 'supports' clustering but  in order to see that support in action - again best practice version - you have to fork out for two other computers running at minimum Server 2008 R2 (and again until somebody points out some definitive official info from Microsoft it may be that you actually need Enterprise for full clustering management functionality).

I'm sorry if this has been tedious for you folks but it's been illuminating to me - it has saved me from making all kinds of false claims to those who are weighing clustering or HyperV server - claims I would have based on Microsoft's marketing literature and even their tech notes. None of them simply put it in plain black and white as follows - and correct me if I'm wrong -  - NOTE: In order to enable best practice clustering services on HyperV server you need an additional two computers running Server 2008 R2.

HyperV Server may be free but clustering with it doesn't seem that free to me. At minimum non-recommended practice requires one standard 2008 R2 license; best practice requires two servers and 2 standard 2008 R2 licenses. No free lunch here.


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jakethecatukCommented:
The OS for the DC DOES NOT NEED TO BE ENTERPRISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Or let me put it another way - YOU DO NOT NEED THE ENTERPRISE VERSION OF 2008 TO MANAGE A CLUSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

I've tried this myself using test servers and what I have said above in ID:29913790 is correct.  To drive the point home just a little bit further, see the attached screen shot highlighting the tools to be installed.

With your cheapo configuration vs. recommended, the only thing you are saving on is the cost of physical machine to act as a DC.   If you are going to virtualise the DC, you still need to buy and OS so your saving isn't that much.   The hardware for the DC does not need to be anything particularly special - it can be a $300 PC (not ideal, but it would do the job).

If you go down the cheapo route, I would strongly (very strongly recommend) that you have a VM on each HYPER-V host running as a DC.  The reason being that you would be able to reboot each HYPER-V host individually and it would see a VM  on the other host running AD services.

Microsoft (and indeed most people) will always assume that having a physical domain controller is a given and that any company deploying HYPER-V will already have this in place.
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lineonecorpAuthor Commented:
I appreciate your point on the double DC VM.

While MS may always think that a site has a DC it somehow doesn't seem to think too deeply about
1) sites that if they do have a dedicated DC is not Server 2008 R2 (hence won't support Windows 2008 R2 clustering)  and/or  2) a site that's got a single box that is DC/file server and Exchange server - not that unusual for a lot of under 25 user environments - basically SBS.  In these not so uncommon situations the business that wanted to be clustered would be going from 1 server 1 OS to 3 servers with two freeware OS and 1 not so freeware OS. (Or 2 OS following the 'best not best practice' using the 2nd VM approach you suggested  or in the 'best best practice' case of always having a 2nd DC on the LAN 4 servers and 2 not-so-free OS.)  Definitely not a situation of 'get  HyperV Server and we'll throw in clustering  for free.'

Much thanks for hanging in.  
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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
We deploy SBS based clusters.

We Open Value license SBS 2008 Premium.
 VM1: SBS 2008
 VM2: Server 2008 Standard x64

We then license Server 2008 Standard R2 on Open Value as well. This OS runs on the stand-alone DC.
 The standalone DC can be RODC, but it needs to be a Global Catalog.

We stand SBS up on the standalone first (Primary DC = same). We then DCPromo the standalone, build the cluster up, and transfer the SBS OS onto the cluster (or primary DC). Standalone DC is needed for the cluster to allow the primary DC (SBS) to move about _while shut down_. The cluster will not allow changes to be made without AD authentication.

The value the client gets at having a clustered setup is huge. Downtime is costly and can be crippling depending on the type of business and the daily revenues they have.

Philip
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lineonecorpAuthor Commented:
Philip,

Thanks for the detailed real world description for SBS. It's not what I was thinking of as I was going to tye clustering HyperV but it's very informative to see how it can be with SBS.  Basically with your configuration if I read it right you have one domain with nothing virtualized and you have AD redundancy through the standalone DC and SBS boxes.
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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
The example based on SBS is how EBS (now defunct) or others would do it in a new domain setup.

With an existing domain setup where the cluster will be implemented, there will probably be at least one standalone DC that will provide the needed AD/GC authentication for the cluster.

Philip
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