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Installing SQL Server 2000 in an active/passive cluster

I am a Java Project Manager in a software house in Italy. Until now, we used SQL Standard Edition as the database in an IBM server (Netfinity 5500 M20) with Windows 2000 Advanced Server installed. Some days ago we bought an IBM cluster with two nodes (working in active/passive mode), and we would like to go on using SQL Standard Edition as database (the Enterprise version is too much expensive). Can we do it? I read your (very good!) article about Microsoft.NET. In the "SQL Server 2000" chapter ("architecture" section), you wrote:

"SQL Server is still available in both standard and enterprise editions. The standard edition includes cluster capabilities -- as long as the cluster is configured as active/passive. (An active/passive cluster configuration is two SQL Servers configured side-by-side, with only one running at a time. If the primary SQL Server fails, the back-up SQL Server takes over. Clusters can also be configured as active/active, where both SQL Servers run simultaneously until one of the servers fails.) If you need an active/active cluster, you'll have to buy the enterprise edition."

Can you explain how to install SQL Server Standard in a active/passive cluster? Note that I would like to have only one copy for each database (every node, when active, must write in the same copy of the database). I think the best thing would be to install the databases file on the shared hard disks. Do you agree?

I tried to install two copies of SQL Server Standard, one for each node. Then I put the data files (.mdf) of each database in the shared HD, and I configured every copy of SQL Server 2000 Standard to point to them. The problem is that only the active node can access to the shared HD, and this causes some problems to the database server running in the passive node. In fact, it tries to access to all the databases I configured anyway. And when I try to access the one I installed on the shared HD, it doesn't work and marks them as "suspect." Then, when the passive node becomes active, it can't restore the database, and I can't access to them.

Can you help me, please? Is this the right way to install SQL Server 2000 Standard in an active/passive cluster? Why doesn't Microsoft say anything on how it is possible to install correctly SQL Server Standard Edition in an active/passive cluster? I hope you can help me: this is very important for my company. Thanks a lot in advance!


Wow, I wrote that column two-and-a-half years ago! That magazine doesn't even exist anymore!

It sounds like your SQL Server database is running on the passive node. It shouldn't be, though. Configure the cluster to start your SQL Services only when the shared disk is switched to the backup node.

As for why MS doesn't provide instructions, I'm not sure. At the time I wrote the article, I verified the licensing requirements with my Microsoft rep. It wouldn't hurt to double-check with your rep and make sure that it's correct and hasn't changed.

Hope that helps!

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