I scream, you scream, we all scream for… iSCSI?

Clustering is fun.  I like moving my cluster group back forth for no reason.  What can I say… see the blog title, I am in fact, a geek.
But how does the average geek test clustering when he has no SAN or Windows Storage Server with iSCSI Target software?
You can go the Linux route which is free (check out this article).  But what if you aren’t a Linux junkie?  Well, there aren’t any…  Wait there is?
Check out RocketDivision’s StarWind iSCSI target software.  It’s not free forever, but the 30 day trial gives you plenty of time to use VMWare Server (which is FREE!) to build yourself a nifty little Window Server cluster.  And for the cost of $395 you can get a licensed version that supports 2 simultaneous connections.  That’s plenty for a test lab.  I use it with Microsoft’s free iSCSI Initiator software and it works great.
So how do I get started?  The cluster nodes must be part of a domain, but the cluster doesn’t write anything to Active Directory beyond the DNS entries for the cluster and any applications you decide to use on the cluster.  If you don’t want to join it to the production domain and you have plenty of RAM then you can do it all with VMs. I built 3 Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition x64 servers using VMWare Server, we’ll call them DC01, NODE01, and NODE02.  I used DCPROMO to install Active Directory and DNS on DC01, then joined the other two servers to the domain.  Create an AD account for the cluster service (I called mine clstrsvc) and service accounts for any apps you want to cluster, like SQL.  Add the service account as an administrator on both NODE01 and NODE02.  I installed StarWind iSCSI Target on the domain controller and created 3 "devices" using Image Files.  I set the first image file up for 500MB, the recommended quorum drive size.  Make sure you check the box for "Allow multiple concurrent iSCSI connections(clustering)" or you won’t be able to add the 2nd node to your cluster!  I also made 2 more 5GB devices to be used for SQL instances.  Go to NODE01 and install the MS iSCSI Initiator.  Open the iSCSI Initiator, click on the Discovery tab and under Target Portels click Add.  Enter the IP of your iSCSI target.  Next click on the Targets tab and highlight the device you configured for your quorum resource and click Log On.  make sure you check the box to reconnect at restart then click OK.  Click on the Bound Volumes\Devices tab and click Bind All.  Go to Disk Management and create a partition on the new drive and format ut with NTFS.  Do NOT make the volume dynamic!
Now we are ready for Cluster Administrator, so go to Administrative Tools and open that bad boy up!  It should open with the Open Connection dialog already up so just select Create New Cluster from the drop down box.  After you run through the feasability tests (if you only have 1 network interface you’ll get a warning, don’t worry about that, it’s fine) you’ll need to choose a cluster name, like testcluster1, and a cluster IP.  You can choose any unused IP on the same network you are already on.  Make sure you use the service account you created for your cluster.  That’s pretty much it for the first node.  Now we got to NODE02 and open Cluster Administrator.  This time we’ll choose Add Nodes to Cluster and click Add for NODE02.  It will run through the feasability analysis again and ask for the cluster service acount password, then you should be all set.  You’ll see both nodes in Cluster Administrator and should be able to right click on Cluster Group and choose Move Group to move control back and forth.  Try using RDP from the DC to the cluster name you chose and you’ll see how it goes to the node that is the current owner of the cluster.
If anyone ever reads this blog and wants more details then I’ll do a screen cap version with more details.  Or feel free to ask some questions and I’ll try to answer!

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