Checklist for creating a cluster in Windows Server 2003

What are the basic requirements for cluster service installation on Windows Server 2003?

Since Cluster Service is installed by default in Windows Server 2003, creating a cluster does not require the installation media or a reboot.

Either the GUI-based Cluster Administrator or the command-line utility Cluster.exe can be used to create and manage clusters on local and remote nodes. Both tools can effectively manage a cluster, but Cluster.exe allows an administrator to create an unattended, scripted cluster installation. Cluster.exe provides too many arguments and switches, so if trying this option, you'll probably need to refer to Help and Support from the Start menu, and search for cluster.exe.

It's a good idea to have multiple network cards in each node so that one card can be dedicated to internal cluster communication (private network), while the other can be used only for client connectivity (public network) or for both public and private communication (mixed network). Cluster nodes equipped with only one network card must run the card in Mixed Network mode.

If you discover shared storage during a cluster installation, Cluster Service will default to installing the quorum resource on the smallest basic partition on the device. If no shared storage is available, a local or an MNS quorum will be created.

Here's a checklist of the things you'll need to do to create a cluster in Windows Server 2003.

  • Gather

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  • the network name for the cluster.
  • Gather all necessary IP addresses for the cluster and for each network card in the cluster node.
  • Before booting up the first server, connect, configure and turn on all external storage devices if any are being used. You should also have the appropriate drivers that may be required for this external storage device.
  • If multiple network cards are being used, rename the connections using easily identifiable names, such as Cluster Private Nic and Cluster Mix Nic.
  • Create a Cluster Service account in the domain in which you are installing the cluster. It needs to be only a standard user account, but the password should never expire. During the cluster installation, the account will be given Local Administrator rights on the cluster nodes and will be given a few rights in the domain, such as Add Computer Accounts to the Domain.
  • Choose your cluster configuration mode and choose the correlating quorum type during the cluster installation.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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