Clusters run on different hardware?

Posted on 2010-09-22
Last Modified: 2013-11-14

We need to cluster SQL Server but have two different pieces of hardware, a Dell Poweredge R900 and a Dell Poweredge 6950. Running them on same hardware might be a best practice but considering same architecture, OS exc, could we get away with this configuration?

Question by:snyderkv
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Expert Comment

ID: 33740788
Should work, need to keep in mine loading of the app. in that node can handle the load.
Drivers to shared storage maybe an issue.
LVL 23

Accepted Solution

Mysidia earned 500 total points
ID: 33740794
The requirements are spelled out:
Although I think you are on highly dangerous ground, as  there is a world of difference between an R900 and a PE 6950, the CPUs aren't even similar, let alone other aspects of the system.

However, providing you are running Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer, you _might_ be able to get away with it,  and still have something supported as far as the OS is concerned  (your storage vendor is a separate matter), you will need to run the cluster validation wizard.       The cluster validation wizard is supposed to tell you that everything is OK,  or tell you that it deems there to be a problem with your cluster  (so that it would be unsupported)

I don't want to get your hopes up;  there is a fair chance the cluster wizard will tell you 'No' to this particular configuration, due to major differences between hardware nodes.

Note that for previous versions of Windows,  and Windows 2k/2003 in particular,  Microsoft had  a much stricter  quite long list of 'requirements'  for a cluster configuration to be supported, there was a specific list of supported cluster hardware HCL and supported configuration -- anything not on the list was not supported,  dissimilar nodes were considered unsupported in the past.

If you were thinking of doing this with an old version of Windows, that would be, well, unsupported, for sure.

But if you check that Technet document url above, see:
Cluster Configuration Changes

Change         Validation tests required
Adding a new node to the cluster                               Full
Adding a new node that uses dissimilar hardware        Full

Microsoft's recommendations noted in the document:  components of the storage stack should be identical across all nodes in the cluster.

That means, for example, Fiber channel HBAs,  or other devices used to connect to the shared storage.
They should be the same time, same hardware revision, same firmware version, and have the exact same locations on the PCI bus.

SQL failover clusters must use shared storage anyways, one of  the most significant issues is that the HBAs and HBA firmware are the same.

If you want specific guidance for your environment, however,  you want to seek one-on-one support/consulting from Microsoft, a Microsoft Partner,  or  Microsoft certified professional   with clustering expertise,  who can take a look at your plans, talk with you in detail,  and make recommendations,  revisions,   or  do the cluster implementation.

Obviously, the expense and administrative overhead required to implement clustering are high, only really worth it if you are trying to provide High Availability for business critical services.

And in such case, it may well be more than worth it for you to make sure the clustering is implemented correctly out the gate,  and you don't discover a design problem the first time you get a real failure.

'Type of server hardware to use'  is definitely not the only consideration or issue involved in properly designing and setting up clusters that will actually work like they are supposed to


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