What is new in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2016

Finally, I’d like to review what’s new in failover clustering in Windows Server 2016. Actually, I wrote this article a couple of months ago for Russian official Microsoft blog so if you are Russian you can go to this resource to read it in your native language.

Also, I described some of the new features before RTM-version (when only TPs were available) and almost all of them can be applied to Windows Server 2016 as well. It means there are no significant changes in RTM for them. I’ll provide a short description of such features and links to my previous posts with a detailed information.

And yes, of course, completely new functionality (Load Balancing, for instance) will also be described here

* I have all of this in PDF format. Ping me in the comments/email and I’ll send to you the copy

Cluster OS Rolling upgrade

Cluster migration is usually a headache for administrators. It could be the reason of huge downtime (because we need to evict some nodes from old cluster, build the new one based on these nodes or new hardware and migrate roles from source cluster. So, in the case of overcommitment we won’t have enough resources to run migrated VMs). It’s critical for CSPs and other customers that have implemented SLA policy.

Windows Server 2016 fixes this by adding possibility to place Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 nodes in the same cluster during upgrade/migration phase.

The new feature named as Cluster Rolling Upgrade (CRU) significantly simplifies overall process and allows us to successively upgrade existed nodes without destroying cluster. It helps to reduce downtime and any required costs (hardware, staff time and etc.)

Cluster Rolling Upgrade Windows Server 2016

The full list of CRU benefits is listed below:

  • Hyper-V virtual machine and Scale-out File Server workloads can be upgraded ONLY from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without any downtime. Other cluster workloads will be unavailable during the time it takes to failover (for example, SQL Server with AlwaysOn FCI ~ 5 minutes of downtime)
  • It does not require any additional hardware (for example, you evicted 1 node of 4. The rest 3 nodes are online and they must have resources for workloads live migrated from evicted node. In this case zero-downtime is predicted)
  • The cluster does not need to be stopped or restarted.
  • In-Place OS upgrade is supported BUT Clean OS install is highly recommended. Use In-Place upgrading carefully and always check logs/services before adding node back to cluster.
  • A new cluster is not required. In addition, existing cluster objects stored in Active Directory are used.
  • The upgrade process is reversible until the customer crosses the “point-of-no-return”, when all cluster nodes are running Windows Server Technical Preview, and when the Update-ClusterFunctionalLevel PowerShell cmdlet is run.
  • The cluster can support patching and maintenance operations while running in the mixed-OS mode.
  • CRU is supported by VMM 2016 and can be automated through PowerShell/WMI

To get more details read my previous post that shows CRU in action (it’s been written for Technical Preview but can still be used with RTM)

Hint: get list of supported VM’s version by host (Get-VMHostSupportedVersion).

Supported VMs Version by Hyper-V Host

Cloud Witness

Failover cluster in Windows Server 2012 R2 can be deployed with an external disk or file share witness which must be available for each cluster nodes and it’s needed as a source of extra vote. As you may know, witness is highly recommended (I’d say it’s required!) for Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster regardless of a number nodes in it (dynamic quorum automatically decides when to use witness).

In Windows Server 2016 a new witness type has been introduced – Cloud Witness. Yes, it’s Azure-based and it’s specially created for DR-scenarios, Workgroup/Multi-Domain cluster (will be described later), guest clusters and clusters without shared storage between nodes.

Cloud Witness uses Azure Storage resources (Azure Blog Storage through HTTPS protocol. HTTPS port should be opened on all cluster nodes) for read/write operations. Same storage account can be used for different clusters because Azure creates a blob-file generated for each cluster with unique IDs. These blob-files are kept in msft-cloud-witness container and require just KBs of storage. So, costs are minimal and Cloud Witness can be simply used as a third site (“arbitration’) in stretched clusters and DR solutions.

Cloud Witness in Windows Server 2016

Cloud Witness scenarios:

  • Multi-Site clusters
  • Clusters without shared storage (Exchange DAG, SQL Always-On and etc.)
  • Guests clusters running on Azure and On-Premises
  • Storage Cluster with or without shared storage (SOFS)
  • WorkGroup and Multi-Domain Clusters (new in WS2016. It’ll be described later)

Continue reading “What is new in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2016”

Azure presentation and technical materials

azure iaas

I’ve received a plenty useful links to my mail today. By using these links you can download Azure related materials to improve your understanding the process of planning and selling Azure services. There are multiple presentations with different levels (from 50 to 200/300) and technical documentation kits.

Azure and CSPs

How partners can make money with Azure IaaS

This presentation provides an overview of how partners can make money with Azure IaaS.

N + DV2 VMs are also described (but a very shortly)

Getting started on CSP for Azure

This FAQ style document is a “Getting Started guide” for Microsoft Azure services in the CSP program.

Overview of CSP in Azure

This presentation provides an overview of the Azure in CSP program

Case Studies 

Azure CSP partner case study – Dell and Takeform

Azure CSP partner case study – Datapipe

Azure CSP partner case study – Lumen21

Azure CSP partner case study – ProserveIT and BC Milk

Azure CSP partner case study – SaaSplaza

Miscelanneous

Active Directory from on-premises to the cloud – Azure AD whitepapers (it’s clear)

Hybrid IaaS technical guides (hope it’s clear too | tech.guides level 300 are perfect)

Hybrid IaaS GTM materials

IoT business documentation

This zipped folder includes an overview of Analytics on Azure, including the IoT vision and data platform scenarios

Internet Of Things (IoT) technical documentation

This document provides technical guidance on deploying cloud services for IoT

Application dev/test technical guides

These documents provide a technical overview of application development and testing.

Application dev/test business documentation

This zipped folder contains documents that provide an overview of application dev/test offerings for partners.

Analytics technical guides

This zipped folder provides technical guidance for analytics on Azure

Analytics business documentation

This zipped folder includes an overview of Analytics on Azure, including the Analytics vision and data platform scenarios.

Contoso in the Microsoft Cloud

[PDF, VSD] See how a representative global organization has adopted all of Microsoft’s cloud offerings, including Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, and Intune.

SQL Services

Azure SQL DB technical documentation

This zipped folder contains best practices and deployment documentation for Azure SQL database.

Azure SQL DB business documentation

This zipped folder contains presentations that provide guidance on Azure SQL database – business discussions.

SQL in Azure VMs GTM materials

Videos/solution templates

SQL in Azure VMs technical documentation

Best practices and deployment documentation

SQL in Azure VMs business documentation

This zipped folder contains presentations that provide guidance on SQL in Azure VMs – business discussions.

Power BI technical guides

This zipped folder provides technical guidance for deploying Power BI, creating dashboards, and other technical details of managed services.

Power BI business documentation

This presentation provides guidance on incorporating Power BI into your managed services practice through CSP.

RDS 2016 in Azure

RDS 2016 on Azure laaS Technical Guidance Deck

[PPTX] RDS 2016 on Azure IaaS Scenario, Offer and Deployment Approach

RDS 2016 on Azure laaS Technical Guidance Document

[DOC] Great Technical guidance for CSP partners

RDS 2016 on Azure laaS Landing Page Framework

This is the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) 2016 on Azure IaaS Landing Page Framework for HMSPs. Please use the content and modify the format to fit your website template

RDS 2016 on Azure laaS Hoster Partners Messaging Framework

Use this document as a guide as you develop relevant communications. This is a reference document, intended to inform the work of marketing and sales professionals.

RDS 2016 on Azure laaS Sales Datasheet

Explains the value of RDS 2016 on Azure IaaS (DOC)

RDS on Azure Laas BDM Deck

[PPTX] RDS on Azure Laas BDM Deck

DR and BaaS

Backup and Disaster Recovery technical documentation

These documents provide a technical overview of Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions.

Backup and Disaster Recovery business documentation

This zipped folder contains documents that provides an overview of backup and disaster recovery offerings for partners.

Backup and Disaster Recovery GTM materials

Disaster Recovery for SQL business documentation

This zipped folder contains presentations that provide guidance on disaster recovery for SQL – business discussions.

Disaster Recovery for SQL GTM materials

Campaigns, sample service offers, and templates

Disaster Recovery for SQL technical documentation

This zipped folder contains technical documentation for disaster recovery for SQL, along with a SQL 2014 hybrid kit.

SQL Backup to Azure GTM materials

This zipped folder contains campaigns, sample service offers, and templates for SQL backup to Azure.

SQL Backup to Azure business documentation

This presentation provides guidance on SQL Backup to Azure – business discussions

SQL Backup to Azure technical documentation

Technical deployment kit with deployment guidance of SQL backup to Azure.