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Windows Server 2012, Clustering a FilerServer and VMWare

Some background...I just received two new servers and a SAN.  The servers are running VMware and are setup as two nodes in a clustered environment.  While I got some crash-course training for VMware, I am a fresh fish to this game.  I am setting up a new domain infustructure using all VMs running Windows Server 2012.  I am considering setting up two Server 2012 VMs as a cluster to function as our file server and have some questions.  

1. Do you recommend using a clustered environment for file serving to ensure high availability incase one of the VMs goes down, is taken offline for maintenance, etc?

2. To create the clustered environment, is it as simple as creating a virtual disk that will be used as the shared storage and then configuring the two Server 2012 VMs as a cluster?

Thanks,

Chris
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csimmons1324
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csimmons1324
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4 Solutions
 
Philip PortnoyCommented:
Chris,

with File Services I strongly recommend using DFS Replication for high-availability, combined with shadow copy.
In this case you will have 2 different sets of data, though it will require 2 times more space.

If you still prefer to go with the clustering, then yes, you're correct, you need to set up VMDK that will be used as shared and configure Windows Failover Clustering with File Services.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. You can use Failover Clustering or VMware HA.

2. It's a little more involved than that....

Setup for Failover Clustering and Microsoft Cluster Service - ESXi 5.0/vCenter Server 5.0
http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-50-mscs-guide.pdf


http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1004617
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
to use a windows cluster in vmware, any shared disks need to be created as mapped raw lun

Creating/Adding a Raw Device Mapping (RDM) to a Virtual Machine
http://www.vmadmin.co.uk/vmware/35-esxserver/58-rdmvm

also recommend creating a DRS rule so that the 2 cluster nodes are not on the same esx host (defined as separate virtual machines) eliminating that single point of failure if a host is down
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csimmons1324Author Commented:
FYI....I am running ESXi 5.5.  Not sure if this is handled differently in 5.5 vs 5.0.
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Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
should work the same way
my last place we had 5.1 and that document was very useful (thanks andrew; was looking for that link earlier)
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csimmons1324Author Commented:
A lot of this is new to me so I apoligize in advance for some of these questions.  What would be the advantages of using DFS Replication?  Here is my thought processes:

1. Node 1 of the Server 2012 cluster is on ESX host 1 of the VMWare cluster.
2. Node 2 of the Server 2012 cluster is on ESX host 2 of the VMWare cluster.
3. All of the VMs and the shared storage reside on a single SAN in a RAID 6 configuration.

If there is a Windows software failure on Node 1 then Node 2 will continue serving the files and vice versa.  If there is a hardware failure on ESX host 1 then Node 2 of the Server 2012 cluster will kick in to serve files.  Plus, vCenter will move all of the VMs on host 1 to host 2 for high availability purposes.  

My thinking is that the clustered environment will protect against an OS failure of Windows Server 2012 nodes.  Since the data / files reside on a single SAN what would be the purpose of replicating this data on the same SAN?  I could understand replicating it across two SANs in case one of the SANs failed.

Chris
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Philip PortnoyCommented:
Chris,

if you're using same SAN and same array, then there is no point of having DFS Replication.
You can use different arrays though.

In your case creating RAW LUN in VMWare and assigning it as a Shared Storage for Windows Clustering is the best option.

I still highly recommend implementing Shadow Copies for files.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
When using Clustering, there is a short delay whilst the Role is "switched" to the other server.

DFS content is replicated to different servers, both servers have and serve the same content, should a server fail, you'll not notice, content will still be served.
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