best practices to deploy MS SQL clusters and network settings

Hi Experts,

I have 2 clients who are running into some clustering issues, and recently NICs on different servers of the same cluster failed. Each client runs following infrastructure:

Client 1

Windows 2008 R2 cluster conformed by 3 physical nodes. OS is Windows 2008 R2, SQL version 2008

Client 2

Windows 2012 R2 cluster with 3 physical nodes. OS is WIndows 2012 R2 SQL version is 2012

All machines are physical, run in a Windows 2008 R2 forest and domain functional level

My questions are:

What are the recommended hotfixes to deploy on Windows 2008 R2 and 2012 R2 physical cluster for SQL?

What are the best practices and recommended settings for NICs on all the 3 nodes?

What are the recommended settings for building the cluster following MS best practices?

This client runs multiple SQL instances, any thoughts?

Your feedback is highly appreciated
Jerry SeinfieldAsked:
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Ryan McCauleyEnterprise Analytics ManagerCommented:
Are you asking about building new clusters, or about ensuring the current ones are in good health?

We run about a dozen MSSQL instances on each of our failover clusters (both in an active/passive configuration, as well as active/active where the instances are balanced across all nodes), so no concerns there.

For updates, I'd honestly recommend that it be as up to date as possible - if you have a testlab or a standby cluster that you can patch first (to confirm that everything works as expected), that's ideal, but not something everybody has available. I'd encourage you to stay up to date on patching - even if you're a month back to ensure that you don't deploy anything problematic, being any further back than that leads to potential security issues on the servers.

Are the network drivers up to date, and do you have separate network connections for the public and heartbeat networks? While you can run the heartbeat connection over the same card and switch as your public (client traffic) network, it's highly encouraged that it be a separate NIC and either a VLAN segment of your switches or a cross-over cable (since you have three nodes, a cross-over cable doesn't work for you - that's a two-node solution). With a dedicated heartbeat network connection, they have unrestricted access to each other in the case of a network failure, and they can more easily figure out which node should be in charge of specific resources. Many cluster failures I've seen are a result of dropped network connectivity - if no nodes can see any others (if they lose the heartbeat network), then nobody will claim ownership of the resources.
Jerry SeinfieldAuthor Commented:
thanks, yes, we do have separate networks for production and heartbeat

Can you or someone else please advise on the recommended hotfixes, and NIC settings? speed, IP4 properties, and so on
EugeneZ ZhitomirskySQL SERVER EXPERTCommented:
make sure you have latest OS and Sql server service packs;
the rest is "normal"
BTW: did you run "Cluster verification \tests"? Did all PASS?

please verify by reading these MS posts
Windows Server 2008 Failover Clusters: Networking (Part 1)

Windows Server 2008 Failover Clusters: Networking (Part 4)

and (just in case)

Before Installing Failover Clustering

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