Deploying an Exchange 2007 SP1 CCR Cluster on a Windows Server 2008 Failover Cluster – Part 2: Forming and Validating the Failover Cluster

In this series revolving around how to deploy an Exchange 2007 SP1 CCR based cluster on Windows Server 2008, we will continue where we left of in Part 1. We will form the Windows Server 2008 Failover Cluster as well as validate its configuration using the new cluster configuration validation wizard included with Windows Server 2008.

Installing the Required Windows Server 2008 Role and Features

In Part 1, we configured the 2 servers that will be the nodes in the Windows Server 2008 Failover Cluster as well as added them to the domain. The next step is to install the required Windows Server 2008 role and features. A clustered Mailbox Server requires the following role and features on each failover cluster node:

  • Web Server (IIS)

  • PowerShell

  • Fail-Over Clustering

The simplest way to install the role and features is to use the new Windows Server 2008 command-line based ServerManagerCMD.exe tool which lets you perform the installation via command prompt window or using a custom script. To install each role or feature individually, run the following commands in a command prompt window:

ServerManagerCmd -i PowerShell

ServerManagerCmd -i Failover-Clustering

ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Server

ServerManagerCmd -i Web-ISAPI-Ext

ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Metabase

ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console

ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Basic-Auth

ServerManagerCmd -i Web-Windows-Auth

If you would rather install them using one command, you can create an XML answer file with the following content:

<ServerManagerConfiguration Action=”Install” xmlns=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/sdm/Windows/ServerManager/Configuration/2007/1″&gt;

<Feature Id=”Failover-Clustering”/>
<Feature Id=”PowerShell”/>

<Role Id=”Web-Server”/>
<RoleService Id=”Web-Metabase”/>
<RoleService Id=”Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console”/>

<RoleService Id=” Web-ISAPI-Ext “/>
<RoleService Id=”Web-Basic-Auth”/>
<RoleService Id=”Web-Windows-Auth”/>

</ServerManagerConfiguration>

To do so open notepad paste in the above code, then save it as an XML file (or even easier download the script here).

With the script created, type ServerManagerCMD –ip <name and path of xml file> in a command prompt. The required role and features will now be installed automatically as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Installing the necessary role and features using an XML file

Creating & Forming the Failover Cluster

The next step is to form the failover cluster. This can be done either via a command prompt using Cluster.exe or using the new Failover Cluster Manager. In order to give you a little introduction to the new Failover Cluster Manager in Windows Server 2008, I will use the GUI in this articles series.

Note:
If you want to use Cluster.exe, please see the respective Exchange 2007 documentation on TechNet.

In order to launch the Failover Cluster Manager, first click Start then Administrative Tools and then finally select Failover Cluster Management as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Launching the Failover Cluster Manager

The Failover Cluster Manager will launch. Under Management click Create a Cluster as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3:
Opening the Create Cluster wizard

In the Create Cluster Wizard (Figure 4), click Next.


Figure 4: The Before You Begin page in the Create Cluster Wizard

We now need to add the name of the servers that should be acting as nodes in the cluster (Figure 5). Do so then click Next.


Figure 5: Adding the servers to the failover cluster

Give the failover cluster a name and an IP address as shown in Figure 6 and click Next.

Note:
This name should not be confused with the clustered mailbox server name which Outlook clients will connect to.


Figure 6: Specifying the name and IP address for the failover cluster

On the confirmation page, click Next.


Figure 7: Confirmation page

The cluster wizard will now create as well as configure the failover cluster as shown in Figure 8.


Figure 8: The Failover Cluster is being created and configured accordingly

When the failover cluster has been created you will be taken to a Summary page similar to the one in Figure 9, and you can now choose to view a report or simply click Finish to exit the wizard.


Figure 9: Summary page

We have now created a basic Windows Server 2008 failover cluster, but there is still some configuration to do before it is ready for our Exchange 2007 SP1 Clustered Mailbox server.

Configuring the Cluster Networks

With the failover cluster created, we must now configure the cluster networks, so that one network interface allows client connections and one is restricted specifically to heartbeat traffic between the nodes. Let’s start by opening the property page for the public network interface (Figure 10).


Figure 10: Opening the property page for the Public network interface

Now change the name of the network interface to Public or something else that makes it easy to see that this interface is indeed connected to the Public network. Also make sure that Allow the cluster to use this network is selected and that Allow clients to connect through this network is ticked then click OK.


Figure 11: Property page for the Public Network interface

Open the property page for the private network interface, and perform the same steps, but make sure Allow clients to connect through this network is unchecked. We do not want any clients to connect to the private network interface. This should strictly be used for heartbeat traffic between the nodes.


Figure 12: Property page for Private network interface

Note:
With Exchange Server 2007 SP1 any network that is configured for cluster use and accepts client connections can also be used for CCR seeding, log shipping as well as reseeding. To configure this use the new Enable-ContinuousReplicationHostName cmdlet. You can also read more about how this is accomplished in the Exchange 2007 documentation on TechNet.

Configuring the File Share Majority Quorum

We must now configure the failover cluster quorum. That is, create the file share on a separate server (best practice is to use a Hub Transport server in the same AD site as the failover cluster nodes). To do so, log on to the server in your lab environment on which the Client Access and Hub Transport server roles are installed, then open a command prompt and create a new folder by typing:

MKDIR FSM_DIR_MBX

Where MBX is the name you plan to use for the clustered mailbox server. It does not really matter what you call it but in case you plan to use a Hub Transport server as file share majority quorum for multiple CCR clusters, it is a good idea to use the name that you also dedicate to the CMS):

Now share the newly created folder using the following command:

NET SHARE FSM_MBX=C:\FSM_DIR_MBX /GRANT:CCRCLUSTER$,FULL

Note that only the Windows 2008 failover cluster account gets permissions to access this share. Also notice that the failover cluster machine account is hidden, meaning you must add a “$” sign after the name.

Now configure the file system permissions with:

CACLS C:\FSM_DIR_MBX /G BUILTIN\Administrators:F CCRCLUSTER$:F


Figure 13: Creating and sharing the FSM folder

With the system file share created, we must configure the quorum settings for the failover cluster, so that they point to the share we just created. To do so, open the Failover Cluster Manager on one of the nodes, then click More Actions in the Action Pane, then select Configure Cluster Quorum Settings in the context menu (Figure 14).


Figure 14: Opening Configure Cluster Quorum Settings

In the Configure Cluster Quorum Wizard (Figure 15), click Next.


Figure 15: Before You Begin page in the Configure Cluster Quorum wizard

On the Select Quorum Configuration page, select Node and File Share Majority (for clusters with special configurations) and then click Next.


Figure 16: Selecting the appropriate quorum configuration for the failover cluster

We now need to specify the path to the shared folder created on the Hub Transport server. You can do this by typing in the path directly or by browsing to the shared folder by clicking the Browse button (Figure 17). When the respective path has been entered, we can click Next.


Figure 17: Entering the share folder path that should be used by the file share witness resource

This brings us to the Confirmation page where you have one more chance to verify that you configured the cluster quorum appropriately. If everything looks super duper, click Next and then Finish on the Summary page.


Figure 18: Confirmation page in the Configure Cluster Quorum Wizard

Note:
You can also configure the quorum settings using Cluster.exe. For details see the Exchange 2007 documentation on TechNet. As mentioned previously in this article, I will use the new failover cluster GUI as much as possible in order to give you an introduction to how you do this stuff using the GUI.

As you can see in Figure 19, we have a fully working Windows Server 2008 failover cluster waiting desperately for Exchange 2007 SP1 binaries to be installed, but before we start installing Exchange 2007 we need to validate the failover cluster configuration.


Figure 19: Status of the Failover Cluster

Validating the Failover Cluster Configuration

Since we are dealing with servers in a lab environment in this article series, it’s not that important, but when you deploy Windows Server 2008 Failover clusters in a production environment you should ensure the failover cluster is properly validated using the cluster validation wizard. As mentioned this step is not super important in this lab environment, but in order for you to see what this wizard is all about, let us go through these steps as well.

In order to validate the failover cluster configuration, we need to click Validate a Configuration as shown in Figure 20.


Figure 20: Clicking Validate a Configuration

On the Before You Begin page, click Next (Figure 21).


Figure 21: Before You Begin page in the Validate a Configuration Wizard

To validate a set of servers in an existing failover cluster, you should either add the names of the servers individually or simply type in the name of the failover cluster itself. When you have done so click Next.


Figure 22: Entering the name of the cluster or the cluster nodes

We now have the option of choosing between two different tests (Figure 23). It is easier, as well as recommended, to choose the Run all tests (recommended) option. When ready click Next.


Figure 23: Selecting what test we want to run

We can start the validation of the failover cluster, to begin this process click Next (Figure 24).


Figure 24: Confirmation page in the Validate a Configuration Wizard

The validation wizard will go through several tests; some will take longer than others (Figure 25). Depending on the hardware specs of your cluster nodes, you need to have patience while the configuration is validated as this can take quite a few minutes.


Figure 25: Running validation tests

When all tests have completed, you will be taken to the Summary page and here you can examine any detected issues.


Figure 26: Examining any issues detected while running the tests

In addition, you can view a detailed report (by clicking View Report). Note this report is saved, meaning you can choose to examine it at a later time if you wish.


Figure 27: Failover Cluster Validation Report

The concludes part 2 of this 3 part article series revolving around how to deploy an Exchange 2007 SP1 CCR Cluster on a Windows Server 2008 Failover cluster. In Part 3, which will be published soon, we will deploy the CCR based clustered mailbox server (CMS) as well as test whether the CMS works as expected.


  • Deploying an Exchange 2007 SP1 CCR Cluster on a Windows Server 2008 Failover Cluster – Part 1: Prerequisites & Configuring the failover Cluster nodes

  • About Tony Nguyễn
    Tôi tên Tony tự Tèo trú tại thôn Tám, Trảng Thanh tỉnh Thừa Thiên. Thưở thiếu thời trí tuệ tôi thường thường, tuy thế tính tình thật thà thẳng thắng, thích thi thơ ...

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