We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Windows/Sql Server cluster how to connect to RAID

AndyPandy
AndyPandy asked
on
This is all new to me.
I would like to build a small system, not virtual, to help me understand and test programs on SQL Clustering.
This raises the following questions to me:
1) Does anyone sell a economical kit of components to build a sandbox cluster?
2) How do the nodes physically connect to a RAID? Do they both have a ribbon cable to a Raid box with two connectors, and two drive controller cards in the PCs?
3)  Is a Domain server needed or can you just have 2 standalone nodes connected to a Raid?
4) Can this configuration be built with 2 regular PCs?  Is another controller card need to connect to the Raid?
5)  What vendors would you use to assemble these components.
Again this is for my own use,  I am hoping to do this for less than $1,000,  once I am comfortable with Clustering I will breakdown and sell the components on ebay.
Comment
Watch Question

Network Engineer
Commented:
It would be hard doing this using new hardware. Here's what you typically need if using physical hardware:

2 computers capable of running Windows 2008/2008 R2. 64 bit processor required for Windows 2008 R2.
External disk array that has some combination of iSCSI/SAS/FC interface
You will need external SAS or FC HBA cards to connect to the external storage if using SAS or FC. iSCSI uses regular Ethernet
The servers need to be members of a domain, so you are probably needing a third server.

Most NAS boxes include iSCSI connectivity. You can use regular PCs if they support Windows 2008/2008 R2. Used FC is available on eBay pretty cheaply. Really cheap SAS or iSCSI hardware is probably harder to find, but you can turn any server into iSCSI storage with some software and some work. If you really want to do this using physical hardware, I say get 3 computers. Run Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Evaluation on all 3. Make 1 your domain controller and run Microsoft iSCSI Target 3.3 on it to turn it into your shared iSCSI storage. Make the other two servers members of the domain and install clustering services and SQL on them.

Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=19867

You can also do everything on a single box using virtualization. Here are instructions for VMware. You can load VMware for free, so if you have 1 computer that you can load VMware on you don't need to spend any money.  :-)

VMware Cluster in a box documentation
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r40/vsp_40_mscs.pdf
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
You could just about cobble it together for $1000 without software costs.

http://computers.pricegrabber.com/enclosures/CRU-2BAY-SAS-SATA-ENCLOSURE-DP10/m94740303.html - dual port 2 disk enclosure $258.67

Seagate ST500NM0001 about $300 - actually I think you could use anything in the above enclosure as it has an internal controller so maybe much less.

2 X HP SC44GE http://www.backupworks.com/atto-sas-sata-adapters.aspx (I was looking for ATTO but the HP branded one was cheaper. $160 X 2

Cables  http://www.pc-pitstop.com/sas_cables_adapters/8888-05M.asp $42 X 2

Hmm, that comes to $964 so you need two PCs at $16 each. Bricks are less than $1 so buy one and throw it through the window of your local school and nick a couple of desktop PCs ;) You'll need a hire car with false numberplates and a disguise so that's the other $35 used up.

Probably better to buy 3 PCs (or ProLiant Microservers or other similar cheap box) and use iSCSI. Starwind iSCSI target trial edition on one plus MS iSCSI initiator on the other two.

Author

Commented:
Kevin,   Thanks for the info.  I've paraphrased your answer below.  Could u clarify?
1)Using iSCSI do I just run a regular CAT5 cable between the standard NIC cards in the PCs to the SAN?
2) What are your thoughts on the 3rd PC as a Domain Server.
3) I would think there would be a market for a setup like this,  why do you think this info is hard to come by?

My paraphrase of Kevins previous note.
Building a Cluster test system, using physical hardware:

a) 2 (maybe 3)  computers capable of running Windows 2008/2008 R2.
        1) 64 bit processor required for Windows 2008 R2.
b) External disk array that has some combination of iSCSI/SAS/FC interface.
  • Serial Attached SCSI (SAS)
  • Fibre Channel (FC) protocol
  • Internet Protocol SCSI (iSCSI)
    1) You will need external SAS or FC HBA cards to connect to the external storage if using SAS or FC.
    2) iSCSI  uses regular Ethernet

The servers need to be members of a domain, so you are probably needing a third server.
Most NAS (Network Attached Storage) boxes include iSCSI connectivity.
You can use regular PCs if they support Windows 2008/2008 R2.
Used FC is available on eBay pretty cheaply.
Really cheap SAS or iSCSI hardware is probably harder to find, but you can turn any server into iSCSI storage with some software and some work.
If you really want to do this using physical hardware, I say:
 a) Get 3 computers.
 b) Run Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Evaluation on all 3.
 c) Make 1 your domain controller and run Microsoft iSCSI Target 3.3 on it to turn it into your shared iSCSI storage.
 d)Make the other two servers members of the domain and install clustering services and SQL on them
   1) Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=19867

You can also do everything on a single box using virtualization.
VMware is free, so if you have 1 computer that you can load VMware on you don't need to spend any money.  :-)
Here are instructions for VMware.
VMware Cluster in a box documentation
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r40/vsp_40_mscs.pdf 
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
If it was my $$$, I would just use a single server and run 3 VMs. That is the cheapest, though performance won't be that great unless you use faster SAS disks in a RAID array. Though you could use a cheap desktop PC with 4 GB RAM and a Seagate Momentus XP hybrid drive... :-) The first VM could be your DC, and the other two VMs would be your SQL servers. If you use ESXi it can emulate shared storage for the cluster, of you can use the MS iSCSI target to create a virtual iSCSI SAN.

If going physical, I would use a 3rd PC as a domain controller and load MS iSCSI Target 3.3 software to turn it into iSCSI SAn storage. The other servers would talk to it via iSCSI, which runs on TCP/IP, which in turn runs on regular Ethernet. You don't need any extra networking or other kind of hardware. So your cluster shared storage for the SQL databases and disk quorum would live on your DC, and then you can connect to them using the using iSCSI.

Since the lab bundle is essentially a single PC, there isn't much to sell, particularly for a lab with a low budget. People sell virtualization in a box including SAN and such, but for much more.
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
>I would like to build a small system, not virtual, to help me understand and test programs on SQL Clustering.

So cheap if you drop the ", not virtual," from it.

Author

Commented:
Although I like the physical world...seems like I should make a virtual leap
Yes vrtual seems a much less inexpensive apporach.
What has surprised me is the lack of knowledge amongst my IT friends about the physical configuration of a cluster.  Hence my question here in EE.
The $1000 andyalder has me spooked,  but if I ebay it afterwards,  maybe not so much,  certainly less than going to clustering school.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer

Commented:
Clustering has been historically very expensive. Several thousand for shared storage, two servers, and multiple Windows Server Enterprise licenses really add up. For learning you can skip the software licensing because Microsoft makes evaluation software available, but there is still a bit of hardware involved, even if we are only talking about 3 machines.

Author

Commented:
While I am wrapping my head around going virtual.  Is anyone aware of a shopping list for  a minimalist workabler physical SQL cluster.  Meaning :PC: processor, memory, drive size, NIC requirments. I am still not sure if a physical (domain?) server is required.
kevinhsiehNetwork Engineer
Commented:
You just need something that supports the OS. Try to keep the RAM at 512 MB or higher. a single SATA drive is okay, even 5400 RPN, though 7200 RPM is better. Single 10/100 NIC is fine. Any processor that supports the OS (ie 64 bit processor if running 64 bit OS).

A Windows cluster REQUIRES Active Directory. You might be able to make both servers domain controllers, but I don't know. Just make sure that when you pull the plug on a server to test failover that you still have a DC available.
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
>What has surprised me is the lack of knowledge amongst my IT friends about the physical configuration of a cluster

Surprised you have any.