Howdy! Today’s blog post is all about Microsoft’s Windows Server Failover Clustering. I’ve noticed that there are a couple of limitations in Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC). I am gonna keep adding the identified limitations, so keep checking.
First of all Shared VHDX issue. Shared VHDX is a clustering storage feature introduced in 2012R2 for windows server cluster participating nodes. If you’re wondering what is Shared VHDX and how it works, Please see here
So, now say, in a 2 node Shared VHDX cluster, you attach 4 Disks to the cluster resource, that is SQL considered as an example here, and both the cluster nodes have these 4 disks in Shared VHDX mode. This will help present the storage as Shared storage, so both the nodes in the cluster can see them. Now if I wanted to move the SQL form Node A to Node B, then all the Shared VHDXs on SQL owning Node will go to Reserve state and will come online on Node B, since we have moved the SQL to node B; and eventually SQL associated Disks and components will move.
Now, if for some reason, one of shared disks are not presented to Node B via Hyper-V manager settings, then Failing over the SQL to Node B will fail to move to Node B. The only error you get is “Cluster disk not connected”. And generating the cluster logs via powershell using “get-clusterlog -uselocatime -timespan 5 -destination D:\logs” too results the below logs.
“ERR [RCM] rcm::RcmApi::MoveGroup: ERROR_CLUSTER_DISK_NOT_CONNECTED(5963)’ because of ‘Move of group SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER) to node CLUSTERNODE2 is not approved’”
Now the limitation I’m talking about here is, the cluster is not helping out you identify which exact Shared VHDX is not visible to the Node B. So, if Disk 2 is not presented to Node B, then the cluster knows in the background that it is failing to bring the cluster Disk 2 on Node B, so it should log all that “Bringing Disk 1 online on Node X — Pass, Bringing Disk 2 Online on Node X…” like so, that will help you identify the missing Shared VHDX on the Nodes.
In the above command I’ve used timespan of 5 minutes to pull logs regarding cluster. This avoid me generating a big file and to read all the unwanted stuff, since I’ve just tried to move the SQL off of Node A within the last 5 minutes.
Now, you may feel that you can use Disk management to see the Disks differences, but it works if you have few disks and they all represent different data sizes. If you have 15 or like Storage disks presented via Hyper-V and then almost all are same size, like 500 GB in sizes, then it would be kinda time waste to go through all those disk numbers comparing the disks on each nodes side by side.
Now, when I say limitation in Shared VHDX perspective, it could also apply to SAN storage presented via EMC powerpath or like that to the Cluster Nodes. But in that SAN storage directly presented to Cluster node, we can use Powerpath console to identify the disks missing using the reference naming convention used to label disks pushed to the cluster nodes while zoning. But it is still I feel a limitation exists in Windows clustering that is much needed to address at earliest.
And here, with Shared VHDX there’s a big issue with the Redirected I/Os that will kill your critical applications because of poor disk performance. A heavy disk utilising cluster resource must not use Shared VHDx as its storage for this reason. I will write more about this Redirected IOs issue in a separate post.