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Small Business Server 2008 Redundancy

Posted on 2011-03-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have a client who recently purchased a SBS2008 System, he would like to turn his two current servers into either A) a mirror of it or b) some sort of cluster for it. His objective is to have a Failover system. If Server A goes down Server B automatically takes the load and has already existing identical data. What is the best way to make this happen? I understand SBS2008 does not have clustering capabilities but CAN do it via Hyper-V. How can I take two Win 2008 (which I guess I can install up to SBS2008) and make them failovers for a SBS2008 System. (One of the Win2008's is the clients current Domain Controller). How would you do this? What is the best way? The client requested this extra extra redundancy.
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Question by:Ethan Wilson
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by:Darius Ghassem
Darius Ghassem earned 100 total points
ID: 35111033
Really not a easy way of doing when it comes to data. Now with Domain Services this is easy you just need to promote the server to a Domain Controller this will support Domain Services.

Now with data you would have to manually replicate or find some software that does this for you.
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by:pwindell
pwindell earned 100 total points
ID: 35111218
There is no fail over with SBS.  The fail over for SBS is called a "Full System State Backup".  Having a second DC with SBS won't work,...it will not acknowledge the FSMO Role transfer even after you manually force it,...you'll find yourself totally screwed with a screwed up (nearly useless) DC.  Been there, done that.

Now you might be able to Mirror the VM using the right products with VMWare, but I don't have access to any other that to work with it.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35111399
I don't know what pwindell did, but you CAN transfer FSMO roles if necessary.  I've done it before without problem from SBS to non-SBS servers... That said, you SHOULDN'T transfer the rolls unless you CANNOT recover the SBS server.

You can download the FREE version of Hyper-V and setup a cluster and then run SBS 2008 in the cluster.

HOWEVER, using a virtualized cluster requires an external storage device that supports iSCSI.  Some models of Drobo devices do, but other than that, these are typically expensive if you don't already have them.

If you want a "poor man's redundancy", setup a second DC (for authentication, DNS, and AD recovery if the SBS fails) and setup DFS for file sharing.  This should replicate all user data between the two systems EXCEPT for Exchange and SharePoint.  Exchange and SharePoint will need special tools/a clustered VM to properly replicate (why I call thsi a "poor man's redundancy")

Finally, you COULD purchase a system like those from HeroWare (if you are the IT provider and not employee - they only sell to resellers) and implement a backup system with that.
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by:Ethan Wilson
ID: 35111400
I have heard of situations where Hyper-V has SBS on it, and the Hyper V was Clustered. I wouldn't have the slightest clue how to implement this.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35111558
> I have heard of situations where Hyper-V has SBS on it, and the Hyper V was Clustered.
> I wouldn't have the slightest clue how to implement this.
As I stated, you need shared storage.  If you have, play with it.  If not, its not really an answer for you.  In that case you need to try something else I mentioned.

It's not a wise idea to implement anything in production you've never tried before.
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by:pwindell
ID: 35111653
don't know what pwindell did, but you CAN transfer FSMO roles if necessary.  I've done it before without problem from SBS to non-SBS servers... That said, you SHOULDN'T transfer the rolls unless you CANNOT recover the SBS server.

Well Transfering and Seizing are not the same.
It wasn't me,...it was the guy before me.  I just had to try to fix it.  They had already had a second DC.  They tried to seize the Roles on the second DC using the commandline tools after the SBS had gone down non-gracefully.  It responded that the roles were successfully seized,...however they were actually not and it continued to behave as if it had no roles.  

When searching for material on it,..everything I found indicated that it was expected and unrecoverable.  We had to just build a whole new Domain from scratch.  I was over a year ago and I don't remember every detail and didn't come into it until after the problem was caused, but it was a real mess,..an "all nighter",...and would not have happend if it was not an SBS.

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by:pwindell
ID: 35111713
They may have brought the SBS back up on the same LAN and allowed them to see each other,...SBS of course demands it have all the Roles,...it seemed to corrupt something in AD and trashed both of the DCs.   But like I said,..it has been a long time,...I don't remember every detail.  But I do know that everything would have been fine if they were normal DCs and not SBS.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35111783
> hey may have brought the SBS back up on the same LAN and allowed them to see each other
You DO NOT transfer/seize roles when you may bring the failed server back up - that WILL corrupt AD.  If they did that, no wonder you had problems.
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by:pwindell
ID: 35111862
Yea, I'm pretty sure it was something like that.  Again hard to remember all the details now, but thinking again about it...maybe the intension was to move away from SBS so they powered it down,...did the Seize,...then to migrate Exchange that was on the SBS to another machine they powered it back up still on the same LAN to get to the old Exchange,...and boom.

My intention when I got there was to flatten both servers and restore the SBS from a Full System State Backup then reapproach the whole project fresh,...except they didn't have a good backup.  Again, not sure of every detail but the more I think about it the more comes back to me.
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Cliff Galiher earned 200 total points
ID: 35112228
To get back on point, the only way to get a true failover setup with SBS is to run a hyper-v server cluster with SBS running as a guest OS. Any other setup will be some sort of resotre from backup scenario (even the HeroWare devices).  Running a Hyper-V cluster requries an iSCSI target as leew mentioned, and with two physical servers and an iSCSI target with true multipath redundancy (oherwise you've just shifted the signle point of failure to the iSCSI target), is going to run you close to $15k. Definitely doable, definitely not cheap, and definitely not for the inexperienced.

-Cliff
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by:realtec
realtec earned 100 total points
ID: 35115047
You could try using this third party software, it fully replicates any server including SBS and works very well.

http://www.visionsolutions.com/world/EnglishUK/Products/DT-Avail.aspx

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by:Ethan Wilson
ID: 35130010
Will using VMWare allow clustering/circumvent the need for iSCSI?
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by:Ethan Wilson
ID: 35130145
Should I simply remove SBS? Or can I virtualize Server 2008/2003 and Cluster those (Cluster the OS and not the Hyper V?)
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by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 200 total points
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For a true failover, you need to use VMWare's vMotion product, which requires licensing and a shared storage solution supported by vSphere. Not necessarily iSCSI, but not DAS either. By the time it is all said and done, VMWare's costs will not be any less expensive.

-Cliff
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by:Ethan Wilson
ID: 35157262
Client was able to return SBS Server to Dell for full value and order two clustered Servers running Windows Server 2008. thank you all for your help!
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Author Closing Comment

by:Ethan Wilson
ID: 35157274
THANKS EVERYONE
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