Category Archives: 1624

114 Days until Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008…

Are you ready for another OS version? February 27th, 2008 is the public launch date. Microsoft has a Vista sidebar gadget to help you remember the date – They seem to love this date, the end of February as they have done it before. Could it be they know by wives birthday is Feb 28? 

Free E-Learning for 2008 – (requires Microsoft Passport login to get the free stuff). 

Links to everything: 

Nice overview: 

2008 Learning Portal: 


File Server Clustering: 

Print Server Clustering: 


I love new OS releases and 2008 looks to be an excellent one!


Observations about the software industry today

Sometimes I think that the movie Conspiracy Theory should have been about the software industry today. What has become of it lately? Here is what I believe:

·         I believe the Anti-Virus companies write all the viruses.

·         I believe most software is way over priced.

·         I believe we now alpha test software for vendors

·         I believe we beta test when service pack 1 comes out.

·         I believe 1.0 is not the standard to avoid, RTM (release to manufacturing/gold code) is.

·         I believe we get the final, ready for the world product when service pack 2 comes out.

·         I believe most software has too many features for 98% of the users.

·         I believe all the added features cause 100% of the problems with software today.

·         I believe it is better to update software then to design it properly to begin with.

·         I believe we, the paying consumer, don’t complain enough so things are only going to continue to get worse.

·         I believe you pay 10 times the cost of software in support costs and lost productivity when it does not function properly out of the box.

·         I believe the world has become too computer savvy because of buggy software.

·         I believe a computer should be just another asset at the office place, taken for granted like a stapler or pencil.

·         I believe that a computer isn’t taken for granted because broken things always get attention and notice.

·         I believe release dates are based upon dates on PowerPoint slides, not when the product is anywhere near being ready or bug free.


Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Beta 3 is out

But if you want to test failover clustering….

Standard SCSI based clustering will no longer work (yes I tested it, no go). 

Rocket Division StarWind will be the product you want to use to test Failover Clustering. You will have to wait until the June 2007 time frame while they make it work with Beta 3.

FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server I am not sure when they will support it.

Microsoft bought StringBean ( which has a great WinTarget program. The program is now part of Windows Unified Data Storage Server and it called Microsoft iSCSI Software Target. That one works today, if you are lucky enough to have a copy.

Clustering terms made easy

Clusters are Highly Available and should never be considered Fault Tolerant.

Highly Available = is when I come anytime my wife calls me.
Fault Tolerant = Marriage.

You don’t want to be married to you SQL/Exchange Cluster 🙂 You do want it around whenever you need it though.

Active/Active = when your cluster is too busy for its own good.
Active/Passive = one worker, one manager, you decide which is which.
Node = Clustered computer, could also be the worker who sits in a cube, not to be confused with Dude.
Virtual Server = this is kind of like be on a telecom at work, only you are calling in from Hawaii and nobody knows.
Quorum = Cluster=Quorum, Quorum=Clustering.
Failover = the only time at work that you can fail and still be a hero.
Failback = great way to get fired, let your server failover without you controlling it (Don’t confuse with the above term).
Cluster = when it fails, also known as a Cluster Fork, only fork is spelled funny – u c what I mean?

Yes, I know, this post should have been on April 1st [:)]


Your Cluster won’t start and you can’t get into Cluster Administrator

Don’t panic, but you do have a problem. You look under Services and the Cluster service is running on the nodes. Open Cluster Administrator from one of the nodes, but don’t use the name of the cluster, the node name or an IP address, use a period (.). This will open it using a Local Procedure Call (LPC) and not a Remote Procedure Call (RPC). See Cluster Administrator Switches for Connecting to a Cluster for complete switch details.

Now with Cluster Administrator open, expand the Cluster group and attempt to start any failed resources. Whatever keeps failing should give a clue as to what is broken, disk, IP, network name, etc.

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 – the good, the bad, and the ugly

By now you are aware that SP2 is out for Windows Server 2003 and R2. I have already seen quite a few posts in the public newsgroups where people are not aware of a few things.

The Good

It is a really good idea to backup your system before you attempt any major update or service pack. Remember your backup is only as good as your restore. Or as Geoff N. Hiten SQL MVP and SQL God says “Until you test a backup by restoring, you don’t have recovery plan, you have a recovery hope.”

Another good idea, read the readme or release notes. They can be found here Release Notes for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2.

Next and maybe most important is to check with your hardware vendor before installing. They might not support it yet. For instance Dell says they don’t have any reported issues, but EMC (A Dell partner) does not support it yet.

The Bad

You will have to take an outage to install this on your cluster. Please read How to install service packs in a cluster. Please note that this document has not been updated for SP2 yet. I won’t bring up the mess everyone had to deal with on Dell’s for SP1 (see or better yet

The Ugly

I remember growing up as a kid and going to Circus World and getting a small usually square white box with question marks all over it. They sold these for $1.49 – $2.99. The more you paid, the better the crap they put in. Installing Service Packs from just about any vendor is exactly like this. You really never know what they have changed, thrown in, made better or worse.

Always test a service pack install on a test cluster. Bad things happen when you test with production servers.


Good luck and keep me posted on your experiences.

What I learned at the MVP Summit last week – and I can tell you about!

The 2007 MVP Summit in Redmond/Seattle was awesome. Lots of great content. Here is what I learned:

1) SQL 2005 can cluster with Standard Edition (ok I knew that). What I learned was that you can have multiple SQL instances (that run on 2 nodes only) within any size cluster. So, if you have a 4 node cluster you can run 2-3 instances with multiple copies of SQL 2005 Standard Edition. Cool! Think of the savings.

2) Exchange 2007 Clustering is way cool and different, but in a good way.

3) Windows Server 2003 can support GPT – – and volumes larger then 2 TB in size!!! Rumor has it Longhorn will also allow this.

4) Windows Server 2003 SP2 did not add anything compelling for a cluster. Check with your hardware vendor before deploying to ensure full support.

5) Windows 2000/2003 clusters can restart resources after a set amount of time – This KB is for 2000 and 2003, I know it’s old but I just found out about this feature (I was not the only Clustering MVP that had no idea).

6) Windows Server Codename “Longhorn” Failover Clustering will be very different, but again in a very good way. Come to my Tech Ed 2007 session in Orlando, Florida to learn a lot more!

My Tech Ed 2007 Session – Top 10 Microsoft Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Failover Clustering Enhancements over Windows Server 2003 Clustering, Based on Best Practices

I was chosen again this year to speak at Tech Ed 2007 –

Here is the abstract:

Be the very first to learn about Windows Server codename “Longhorn” Failover Clustering. Are you using Windows Server 2003 Clustering? Are you following best practices? In this session we explore Windows Server codename “Longhorn” Failover Clustering by comparing it to Windows Server 2003 Clustering based on current best practices. The session begins with hardware configuration issues, concerns, and best practices—then and now. Next, we explore operating system configuration issues, concerns, and best practices. Then, we move on to the cluster service, and finally applications. After this session you will look forward to deploying Windows Server codenamed “Longhorn” Failover Clustering.


I hope to see you there!

Surviving the Windows Server 2003 Cluster Bomb, Part II

I can’t believe it. Just when you think it’s safe to go back to reading the web… Part II  of the worst clustering article of all time is out. Back in July ( I wrote how bad Part I was. Several months later Part II came out and I missed it. A former student asked what Russ and I thought of Part II.

Russ, summed it up nicely ( and I won’t restate what I wrote about Part I – even though it still fits. Let’s just say I hope there is not going to be a Part III.

Having problems installing SQL SP4 on a SQL 2000 Cluster?

Verify that there are no dependencies or extra resources other than those created by the SQL Server setup on any of the SQL Server cluster resources. Resources such as file 
shares, print servers, etc.must always have a unique network name and an IP address resource. You must remove any such non-default dependencies before you install SQL Server 2000 SP4. No dependencies other than those supplied by the SQL Server setup should be used.

For example, if you have MSDTC resource in the SQL group and if MSDTC is 
dependent on SQL Server Network Name and SQL IP Address then you may have 
this issue. If this is the case then you will need to remove the dependencies and then try running the setup again.

If you still have the same problem, then the next step will be to review 
the logs. I would start with the sqlsp.log (created on the node where you 
ran the SP4 setup).

SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3, Service Pack 3a, or Service Pack 4 
pre-installation checklist for SQL Server 2000 virtual server for failover