Windows 2008 Clustering — My friend and yours

I wondered what I should blog about.  Since I work as a DBA who claims to know nothing but no one at my office believes me, I thought one of my first posts should be on how my company leverages Windows 2008 clustering to reduce infrastructure/SQL licensing costs.

In the past my company built out 2-node Active/Passive Windows 2003 cluster for our production SQL instances.  The problem we run into is that your Passive sits there idle, waiting to be used, and you end up double infrastructure costs to provide high SLA protection.  There was also no way to keep SQL licensing costs down

Two years ago my company implemented an HP Polyserve clustering solution for our SQL 2005 instances.  I will share my feelings on that product at another time.  Our intention was to:

  1. Build out a multi-node cluster to reduce infrastructure.
  2. Run an Active/Active/…/Passive cluster.
  3. Reduce licensing costs.

Since we run externally facing SQL Enterprise SLA instances, we wanted to be able to stack instances on a single node, as needed, and only pay the external license based on the CPUs on the box SQL is running on.  This allowed us to go from 12 CPU license for a legacy application down to a 2 CPU license, saving a substantial amount of $$.

Starting in 2009 we moved away from HP Polyserve to use the new Windows 2008 clustering solution.  We found that Windows 2008 gave us the key benefits we got from HP Polyserve with some extras:

  • Simplified SQL/SSAS 2008 install and upgrade
  • Windows 2008 cluster node management
  • Up to 16 non-heterogeneous nodes in the same cluster
  • Active/Active/…/Passive SQL environment.
  • Up to 18 virtual SQL/SSAS instances
  • Use of port 1433 for virtual SQL instances

Of course Windows 2008 clustering is not without its drawbacks [and there are many].  I know many company’s run SQL on Hyper-V or VMware but given the complexity of licensing and CPU/memory configuration, we have tried to avoid that mess.

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