Server 2012 High Availability Cluster

Hello Experts,

I am wanting to see if it is possible to setup a high availability cluster in 2012 using its built in features for this in a certain way.  and if it is possible what software i would need to do this.  I will put what I am thinking below.

what i want is to have two physical servers that would be identical hardware wise.  there is already one server in place that is running server 2012 directly off of the physical hardware and it is hosting some database software and quickbooks.  what i want to do is setup the identical servers with one as a primary and one as a failover so that if the primary server fails, it will switch over to the other automatically.  I'm not sure how to describe this using server 2k12 or hyper-v terminology but to give you an idea of the ideal situation i'll explain what vsphere does with HA clustering.  in vmware if there is a cluster that has two nodes in it and one is running VM's then a heartbeat is monitored by a vcenter server.  if the node running the VM's should crash or fail then the VM's are automatically restarted on the second node in the cluster after the hearbeat times out.  the users experience a slight interruption of service but nothing that a workstation restart can't fix.  i would love to get that behavior out of the built in HA clustering on server 2012 or at least something similar.  does anyone know if this is possible?

thank you in advance for any help.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, this is possible with Hyper-V, and is also called HA, or Hyper-V Failover Cluster.

You will need to

1. Add the Hyper-V role to both Windows 2012 Host Servers.

2. Install and Configure Microsoft Failover Clustering. (this will require shared storage)

3. Add the Virtual Machine to Failover Clustering.

In the event a host fails, the Virtual Machines will be restarted on the other Cluster Node.

(for your information vCenter Server just configures VMware HA, the HA Agent (Fault Domain Manager Agent) on both hosts is responsible for monitoring, and restarting VMs, so even if vCenter Server is down, or off, VMware HA continues.

see here
ctagleAuthor Commented:
thank you very much for the reply.

when you say shared storage are you referring to a san or a nas of some kind?  if so i'm guessing it would need to be an appliance that supports iscsi, since i've read thats how the shared storage works on the HA on server 2k12.  or is that not the case and can the internal storage be utilized on both servers via replication across the network or some other means.

currently it is not running any vm's, would the current os need to be converted to virtual and then deployed in hyper-v before this will work?

is the only thing required for this an additional license for server 2k12?  (aside from the hardware of course)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, you will need a supported iSCSI of Fibre Channel SAN.

It is possible to configure failover clustering using SMB 3.0

see here

Hyper-V replication is another function, that can be used to replicate a VM from one host to another host. (using local storage, no HA here though!).

To enable Hyper-V on the current server, you just add a Role (Hyper-V).

You can then deploy VMs to it.

If you already have Windows 2012, you already have the license, and Standard also entitles you to run Two VMs as well. (inc with the license)
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ctagleAuthor Commented:
So if i have a third server that is just doing storage (a t310) i could theoretically setup an smb share on that and use that server as the shared storage source for hyper-v?  the t310 is running 2k8 though, not sure if that would present a problem, i'll check on line and see if 3.0 is on 2k8.

on the hyper-v replication, is that basically where it just replicates it to another machine, and in the event of a failure you just start up the replicated one on the secondary server manually?  that would actually work because there isn't a need for automatic startup, it would just be ideal, manual invoicing can be done for up to 24 hours while the replicated machine is brought up, and if i'm understanding how this works it would be like an hour or two of downtime at most as all we would have to do is power on the replicated server, of course this is dependant upon whether or not replication is done in realtime or on a periodic basis.  This would work out better (assuming replication is done in realtime or at least often) because there is no need to buy a SAN, which can get expensive.  

Thank you again for all your help and i am currently reading through those links
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
if you have a spare server - yes, providing it supports SMB 3.0.

Replication works, as you have highlighted.
ctagleAuthor Commented:
I am reading online that SMB 3.0 is not supported on server 2k8, which means that I would have to put 2k12 on that server, it would be virtualized but that would push the number of installs up to 3 meaning that i would require a second license for 2k12 right?
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
I suggest setting up the VMs on HOST 1 and replicating the VMs to HOST 2. Hyper-V Replica will do what is required within the confines of the original question.

2 Hosts = Hyper-V Replica without the need for central storage.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I thought you had decided now to do Hyper-V replica, rather than Clustering ?

because the downtime, is small, just requires you to turn on the replica....

Remember Keep Things Simple!
ctagleAuthor Commented:
I just want to make sure that i have all the options in front of me should the request for clustering come up.  just so i under stand the replicated vm is turned off all the time in hyper-v and data is replicated to its virtual hard disk, and then if the time comes i just turn on that vm.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
That is correct.

It's a cold stand-bye. and as old as the last replication. So if you replicate every 24 hours, it will be 24 hours old, or every 15 minutes.

So that is the difference between Replicated and HA.

With HA, it's the same VM....which get's turn on again, but the downtime, is the amount of time, the VM is off, or takes to restart, but you will require a cluster to achieve this.

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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Any preference for hardware vendor?

The least expensive option using built-in features in Windows Server 2012 R2 would be:
 + (2) E5-2600 series servers with dual SAS HBAs per node
 ++ 128GB to 512GB of RAM per node depending on workloads
 + (1) 24 bay or 60/70 bay SAS based JBOD
 ++ JBOD choice would be dependent on volume of storage and IOPS required

Using the above the OS gets laid down, Hyper-V Role installed and set up, and finally Clustered Storage Spaces would be utilized for storage arbitration between the nodes. We call this an asymmetric cluster though that may not be completely accurate. :)

The above requires no additional license costs that third party would require. It's relatively inexpensive versus iSCSI and a SAN fabric (Above bandwidth is 96Gbps of aggregate throughput) which tends to be complicated and temperamental.
ctagleAuthor Commented:
thank you both for the assistance, it really helped me to understand the way that stuff works, it gave me enough information to provide an accurate recommendation on both sides
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