The Real (and Virtual) Adventures of Nathan the IT Guy

Dec 11 2012   2:38PM GMT

Windows Server 2003 R2 x64 Cluster with VMware Virtual Machine using RDM

Nathan Simon Nathan Simon Profile: Nathan Simon

So you want to move your Server 2003 Servers to a clustered environment in VMware. First thing I must mention is  that it is supported by VMware but not Microsoft. So it should be pristine before and after migration. The problem I had been facing was that I would have a two node cluster with SAN attached storage, I wanted to present those LUNs to ESXi, when doing so I ran into a couple issues.

  1. Reboot of the host, it takes extremely long to reboot (ESXi / ESX hosts with visibility to RDM LUNs being used by MSCS nodes with RDMs may take a long time to boot or during LUN rescan), the fix is here.
  2. After mapping to an RDM, you cannot browse the containing folder. You need to be able to browse to the containing folder to map the second VM, to be able to run Cluster Across Boxes. If you cannot browse your cluster is already finished before it started. The solution to this one wasn’t as straight forward, I couldn’t find any concrete evidence anywhere of hos to bypass this or why it was happening, Server 2008 R2 works fine. Either way, I did happen to find a partial solution, if both physical nodes were shut down, I was able to bind to the disk and browse the folder of the RDM VMDK pointers. The second test was to see if I could bind to RDM disk that was present on the primary cluster node, so I shut down the secondary node, bound the RDM LUNs to my VM, and to my surprise I was able to boot up the VM. What I did find that kind of led me to this, was that Server 2003 only supports 2 active nodes in a cluster with SCSI SAN Disk, even though the physical hosts were Fibre Channel, I guess the 2 node part stands…

The main thing is to remember that Windows Server 2003 holds SAN storage differently than Windows Server 2008, 2008 is more exceptive of other machines seeing shared storage, while Server 2003 will have none of it. In the end since it is not supported, its up to you to make it work, and keep it working. Most consulting firms suggest moving to 2008 R2 Clusters, or just don’t bother clustering at all. Let HA(High Availability) do the work.

Good Luck… Questions Leave a comment.

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