Microsoft Support Terms Defined

Several terms that come up almost daily with my customers. Defined here for you:

Supported – We have a wide range of support options. When we (Microsoft) state we support something, it really means we have tested that scenario and that is works as we programmed it to.

Best Effort – As defined here PSS support for hardware-related/network-related/third party software issues is limited to a commercially reasonable effort. If PSS determines that the issue is related to the hardware/network/third party software, you must obtain support directly from the vendor of the computer or from the hardware manufacturer.

Unsupported – We have NOT tested this scenario or product usage and because of that we will not be able to help a customer in this state. The product may or may not work as expected; we simply don’t know and haven’t test it.

An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows—new drivers for your hardware and more. (from

Recommended – We support and recommend this configuration. We have experience supporting other customers doing exactly what you are doing or have purposed to do. This is may or may not be the best way of using or configuring the product, but we are ok with your approach – in other words it’s not a bad idea.

Best Practice – We support, recommend, and have experience that over time this is the best way to configure or use the product.  This does not mean this is the only way to use or configure the product, we will potentially support other ways of product use/configuration. We either use this internally and/or have other large customers using or configuring the product this way.

Worst Practice – We never in a million years thought a customer would do what are or have purposed to do with the product. We haven’t tested or designed the product to be used in this way. In the grand scheme of things this is a very, very bad plan and should be corrected to a recommended or best practice ASAP. We won’t support this configuration or usage. Please reconsider your choice.

Now go out there and do something that is a best practice today :)

Posted by Rodney R. Fournier | 2 comment(s)
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NTBackup Script Procedure

1)      Copy robocopy.exe from the Resource Kit to something like c:\backup\tools. This is used in step 5 below.

2)      Create a backup list using the GUI version. Save a system state only as night.bks, save all the drives and system state as night-all.bks. Make sure you use the backup directory path listed below in the script or modify to a SAN location.

3)      Use the follow for the required .bat file


            *** BEGIN BAT FILE ***



REM  Build Date String yyyymmddhhmm


for /F "usebackq tokens=2" %%i IN (`DATE /T`) DO Set TIMESTR=%%i%

for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2,3 delims=/" %%i IN ('%TIMESTR%') DO SET MONTH=%%i%

for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2,3 delims=/" %%i IN ('%TIMESTR%') DO SET DAY=%%j%

for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2,3 delims=/" %%i IN ('%TIMESTR%') DO SET YEAR=%%k%

for /F "usebackq" %%i IN (`Time /T`) DO Set TIMESTR=%%i%

for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2* delims=:" %%i IN ('%TIMESTR%') DO SET HOUR=%%i%

for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2* delims=:" %%i IN ('%TIMESTR%') DO SET MINUTE=%%j%








@ECHO Directory String %DIRSTR%


IF NOT EXIST “c:\backup\tools\nightlybackup.bat” GOTO SKIP


C:\WINDOWS\system32\ntbackup.exe backup "@\\DOMAINCONTROLLERNAME\c$\Backup_DCNAME\night-all.bks" /n "DCNAME.bkf" /d "Nightly" /v:yes /r:no /rs:no /hc:off /m normal /j "Nightly" /l:s /f "\\DOMAINCONTROLLERNAME\C$\Backup_DCNAME\%DIRSTR%DCNAME.bkf"






C:\WINDOWS\system32\ntbackup.exe backup "@\\DOMAINCONTROLLERNAME \c$\Backup_DCNAME \night.bks" /n "DCNAME.bkf" /d "SS_Nightly" /v:yes /r:no /rs:no /hc:off /m normal /j "SS_Nightly" /l:s /f "\\DOMAINCONTROLLERNAME\C$\Backup_DCNAME\%DIRSTR%DCNAME.bkf"



            *** END BAT FILE ***


Comments and legend for the above batch file.


First I turn of echo

Next section builds the current date, we will use this to sort the backup and delete ones older than 7 days.

If not exist statement is useful if you store anything on a SAN drive. If they SAN is down normally the backup will fail, so I check before and then just run night to just backup the system state.

First backup runs a backup of the DOMAINCONTROLLERNAME (replace with a real name), creates a new file called DCNAME.bkf (replace with server name), next I label the backup Nightly, verify is then turned on, restricted access is NOT turned on – you may want it though (so /r:yes would turn it on), hardware compression is turned off, the backup type is set to normal, next the job name is set for backup reporting, next logging is set to summary, and finally the file name is created with the date and time stamp at the front (again for sorting and deleting older files later).


4)       To schedule a task to automatically backup a machine. Go to Start-> Control Panel -> Scheduled Tasks -> Add Scheduled Task.  During the configuration the following options are selected:


Scheduled Task Wizard


Scheduled Task Wizard






Scheduled Task Wizard

Type a name for this task

Perform this task





Scheduled Task Wizard

Start Time

Perform this task

Start date


3:15 AM

Every Day



Scheduled Task Wizard

Enter the user name

Enter the password

Confirm password





Scheduled Task Wizard

Open advanced…





5)      Finally I use robocopy to clean up, so the backup won’t fill up the disk.

c:\backup\tools\robocopy c:\backup\ c:\backup\t *.bkf /MOV /MINAGE:10 rd /q /s c:\backup\t

I use Robocopy to look at the c:\backup and create a c:\backup\t folder (for temporary). I look for anything that ends with .bkf which is then Moved to the temporary (c:\backup\t) folder, if it is at least 10 days old. This process is done quietly and uses a sub directory of c:\backup\t.


Enjoy, let me know if you have any questions or issues.

Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering Microsoft Official Curriculum is out!!!!

The Windows Server Failover Clustering Product Group is proud to announce the release of the first ever Windows Server 2008 Microsoft Official Curriculum course

Course 6423A: Implementing and Managing Windows Server 2008 Clustering


The course will be available in the channel May 15th, 2008.


Special thanks go to the following to make this happen:


Elden Christensen

Ahmed Bisht

Chuck Timon

Mike Briggs


I have seen it, excellent work gang, this is truly an exciting day for Failover Clustering!!!



Life at Microsoft

As you might we aware of I recently joined Microsoft as a Senior Premier Field Engineer. While I don't work out of the Redmond campus, I have been there numerous times. Here is a great humorous look at life here at Microsoft:


Enjoy :)

Posted by Rodney R. Fournier | with no comments
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New Clustering Blog from Microsoft

Ok, it is not new, but now it gets new posts weekly.

 They even mentioned this blog today

Look to it for tons of great information.

How to migrate (not upgrade) from Windows Server 2003 Server Clustering to Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering

The 2008 articles are just starting to hit the web. This one deals with migration, not upgrading. You can't upgrade to 2008 Failover Clustering. I am actually glad you can't upgrade, I really don't like that word.

 Here is the article:

114 Days until Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008...

Are you ready for another OS version? February 27th, 2008 is the public launch date. Microsoft has a Vista sidebar gadget to help you remember the date - They seem to love this date, the end of February as they have done it before. Could it be they know by wives birthday is Feb 28? 

Free E-Learning for 2008 - (requires Microsoft Passport login to get the free stuff). 

Links to everything: 

Nice overview: 

2008 Learning Portal: 


File Server Clustering: 

Print Server Clustering: 


I love new OS releases and 2008 looks to be an excellent one!


Exchange Server 2007 & CluAdmin/Cluster.exe Bad Things can Happen?

My good buddy Scott Schnoll attempts to clear up some confusion on when and where to use Cluster.exe/CluAdmin to move a CMS. Find his post here:

Here is the comment I left: 

The samples you sited are for creating or managing a cluster, none of them are for moving a CMS.

Using CluAdmin/Cluster.exe vs. EMC/EMS with SP1 require different security levels by default and may not be the same individual. Now we will have to give Cluster Administrator Exchagne rights to avoid "Bad things Happening"...

Thankfully SQL and other Microsoft produts don't have an issue with CluAdmin/Cluster.exe. Nor do they have any other way to manage them, K.I.S.S. in action.

Thanks for the post Scott!

Exchange Server 2007 SCC/CCR lessons learned

This past weekend I ran into a few issues with Exchange Server 2007 and wanted to share, so anyone with them won’t have to call Microsoft PSS and go through the fun (ok, not really fun…) that I went through.

Partition in Time with CCR

You have a partition in time, but what does that mean. You lost a node or the witness, and while that
was happening the remaining node/witness thought a change was made. When the
down node/witness came back it detected that a change has occurred and
killed the entire cluster. This is by design.
Now, how do you fix it? ForceQuorum section:

Function: When you use a Majority Node Set (MNS) quorum model on a Windows
Server 2003 cluster, in some cases a cluster must be allowed to continue to
run even if it does not have "quorum" (majority). Consider the case of a
geographically dispersed cluster with four nodes at the "primary" site and
three nodes at the "secondary" site. While there are no failures, the
cluster is a seven-node cluster where resources can be hosted on any node,
on any site. If there is a communications failure between the sites or if
the secondary site is taken offline (or fails), the primary site can
continue because it will still have quorum. All resources will be re-hosted
and brought online at the primary site.

In the event of a catastrophic failure of the primary site, however, the
secondary site will lose quorum, and, therefore, all resources will be
terminated at that site. One of the primary purposes for having a multi-site
cluster is to survive a disaster at the primary site; however, the cluster
software itself cannot make a determination about the state of the primary
site. The cluster software cannot differentiate between a communications
failure between the sites and a disaster at the primary site. That must be
done by manual intervention. In other words, the secondary site can be
forced to continue even though the Cluster service believes it does not have
quorum. This is known as forcing quorum.

Because this mechanism is effectively breaking the semantics associated with
the quorum replica set, it must only be done under controlled conditions. In
the example above, if the secondary site and primary site lose communication
and an administrator forces quorum at the secondary site, resources will be
brought online at BOTH sites, thus allowing the potential for inconsistent
data or data corruption in the cluster.

Forcing quorum is a manual process that requires that you stop
the Cluster service on ALL the remaining nodes. The Cluster service must be
told which nodes should be considered as having quorum.

Usage scenarios:
Special care must be taken if and when the primary site
comes back because the nodes are configured as part of the cluster. While a
cluster is running in the force quorum state, it is fully functional. For
example, nodes can be added or removed from the cluster; new resources,
groups, and so forth can be defined.

The Cluster service on all nodes NOT in the force quorum node list must
remain stopped until the force quorum information is removed. Failure to do
so can lead to data inconsistencies OR data corruption.

Set up the Cluster service startup parameters on ALL remaining
nodes in the cluster. This is done by starting up the Services control
panel, selecting the Cluster service, and then entering the following in the
Start parameters option:
net start clussvc /forcequorum node_list
For example, if the secondary site contains Node5, Node6, and Node7, and you
wanted to start the Cluster service and have those be the only nodes in the
cluster, use the following command:
net start clussvc /forcequorum /forcequorum node5,node6,node7
Note There should be no spaces in the key (except where there are spaces in
the node names themselves).

The only problem I could not get the above commands to work on a 64-bit Windows Server 2003 R2, Enterprise Edition SP2 machine. I most got invalid syntax. Here is what PSS told me to do:

1.    We shutdown one of the nodes, a true power off. We will call this the passive node.
We added the following value to this registry key on the surviving node (active node):


Value: ForceQuorum

Type: REG_SZ

Data: nodenamea
3.    Replace nomenamea with the machines name, such as exch2007nodea - where this is the node that is currently running.
We attempted to start the cluster service on the active- surviving node and it started.
We then stopped the cluster service on the active - surviving node and added nodenameb to the ForceQuorum data value on the surviving node.
We restarted the powered off (passive) machine.
We then started the cluster service on the active node and it started. The registry with the ForceQuorum containing both node names.
We attempted to start the cluster service on passive (with no parameters or registry changes) and it started.
9.    We verified that the Cluster group resources were online.
Undo the registry changes by deleting the ForceQuorum key from the Active node.

Exchange Server 2007 System Attendant fails to come online within a CCR/SCC cluster

After the cluster was up and running, the Exchange SA was not. Looking in the Application event log and we were getting the following errors with regards to the Exchange SA failing to start:

Event ID 1011, 1030, 1003, and 1019 errors.

We found that a bug exists where the Exchange SA times out after 40 seconds when the default of 180 seconds is used for the resource.

We changed the value to 179 and the Exchange SA resource came online. This is scheduled to be fixed in SP1. This bug was confirmed for SCC & CCR Exchange Server 2007 Clusters.

Update from PSS - find a link to the first issue here, we are still waiting on the KB to be updated though.

Observations about the software industry today

Sometimes I think that the movie Conspiracy Theory should have been about the software industry today. What has become of it lately? Here is what I believe:

·         I believe the Anti-Virus companies write all the viruses.

·         I believe most software is way over priced.

·         I believe we now alpha test software for vendors

·         I believe we beta test when service pack 1 comes out.

·         I believe 1.0 is not the standard to avoid, RTM (release to manufacturing/gold code) is.

·         I believe we get the final, ready for the world product when service pack 2 comes out.

·         I believe most software has too many features for 98% of the users.

·         I believe all the added features cause 100% of the problems with software today.

·         I believe it is better to update software then to design it properly to begin with.

·         I believe we, the paying consumer, don’t complain enough so things are only going to continue to get worse.

·         I believe you pay 10 times the cost of software in support costs and lost productivity when it does not function properly out of the box.

·         I believe the world has become too computer savvy because of buggy software.

·         I believe a computer should be just another asset at the office place, taken for granted like a stapler or pencil.

·         I believe that a computer isn’t taken for granted because broken things always get attention and notice.

·         I believe release dates are based upon dates on PowerPoint slides, not when the product is anywhere near being ready or bug free.


Exchange Server 2007 MCP Exams – Notes from the field

I love taking Microsoft exams because I learn so much. I learn what Microsoft feels are the important product features that everyone show know. I learn different ways to do common tasks within the product, let’s face it sometime we only know as much as our peers. I also learn exactly where I stand on the product, and what I really need to work on.

As I get older though I am either getting smarter or lazier, take your pick. I simply don’t study for the exams anymore. Sorry, but I don’t. I take the exam to learn the question format, style, content, and lastly to gage what if anything I need to study. I recently did this for the 3 (yes I said 3) exams that relate to Exchange Server 2007. I would now like to break down what took place without breaking my NDA.

70-236 TS: Exchange Server 2007 Configuration

This is a fun exam. Honest, it is. I would recommend this as the second exam in this series. I walked in to take my practice version and almost pasted. Lots of PowerShell (Exchange Management Shell - EMS). I failed my first attempt by 2 questions. I needed more Edge server information. I need to learn more PowerShell cmdlets, like anything test-*. I did not feel the test was worded poorly nor had any long questions. Either you knew it or you blew it.The second time I took this I studied:
  • test-* cmdlets
  • Microsoft Search service repair
  • DR repair and movement of Hub Transport logs
  • Edge Configuration cmdlets
  • General EMS syntax
I passed my second attempt because of the above and the fact that I could relax knowing I had plenty of time to take the exam and concentrate on the PowerShell questions. All and all it’s a fair exam. My only problem is that I suck at PowerShell/EMS, honestly. After the exam I wanted to recreate some of the cool ones the test went over and I could not do the syntax. It is one thing to see 4 or 5 various ways to attempt to do a command, easy pick the one that works. Now, try and do that without the spoon feeding. The help files are ok, but I need more examples to choose from, like on the exam.
70-237 Pro: Designing Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
This exam is trying to test if you fully understand all the concepts of Exchange Server 2007 design. I passed with flying colors on my first attempt – without a lick of studying. The questions were very cut and dry, with usually only 1 glaring answer. I would definitely start by taking this exam! It is a very fair exam.
70-238 Pro: Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
OUCH! Make this your last exam and do yourself a favor, study! This one got to me, deep inside it hurt, and badly. My first attempt I failed by 3 questions, but I did not feel I was really that close. This is a wonderfully well rounded exam. From soup to nuts you need to learn it all to have any chance. This is a VERY wordy exam; several questions were a good two pages. Tons of reading. I took 90% of the time to complete it. Time was an issue and I pushed myself at the end, I regret doing that.The second time I took it I studied:

·         Edge Configuration

·         Backup/DR scenarios – incremental vs. differential

I passed my second attempt and almost jumped for joy when I read the word passed. You need to know Exchange from top to bottom for this exam.  I had Novell questions, Security Configuration Wizard, GPO, IPSec, VPN, IBE, Hosted Services, and tons of CCR vs. LCR vs. SCC questions. I found the wording VERY difficult. As a clustering MVP I still had a very difficult time with the HA questions. I knew every word, but not the way it was worded. This is a VERY wordy exam; several questions were a good two pages. Tons of reading. I took 95% of the time to complete it. 95%! Dang! Time was not really an issue though, because I knew I would finish with a few minutes to spare. The timing is very close, but you will finish.

So what does it all add up to?

In the end, assuming you pass all three exams, you get two new classes of certifications. MCSE is gone (long live the MCSE), it has been replaced by MCITP – Microsoft Certified IT Professional (all three exams are required). Any certification with IT in it is silly in my eyes. MCP has really been replaced with MCTS – Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist. After your pass the 70-236 exam you are a TS. Here are the official titles cut from my official Microsoft Transcript.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional
Microsoft Exchange 2007 Messaging Solutions Administrator

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist

Microsoft Exchange 2007: Configuration

Hello Microsoft Certification, the product is called Microsoft Exchange SERVER 2007. I think you left off a word. Strange! And what gives with the Solutions Administrator, I take a Design and Deploy exam but I can only administer? Sounds more like an Architecture cert to me.Anyways, I am done rambling here, good luck on your exams, study and enjoy! Drop me a line when you pass them.


ClusterHelp dates for 2008 and Copenhagen update

Russ and I will be in Copenhagen, Denmark September 3-6, 2007 (yes just a week away) and we still have a few spots open in the course. If you would like to attend use the link the left (under ClusterHelp). I am really looking forward to it. Russ will be lecturing and I will assist in the labs, thus both of us supporting what we wrote :)

If you can't make Denmark, we have courses in NYC scheduled through 2008 now, just added today:

Jan. 21-24, 2008

May 12-15, 2008

Oct 13-16, 2008

Come on out and enjoy one of these great cities with me!


A few tips for Exchange Server 2007 SCC & CCR clustered installations

Have you tried to install Exchange Server 2007 yet? Clustering is different. First of all Exchange Virtual Servers (EVS) are gone, replaced with Clustered Mailbox Server (CMS). You now have two options for clustering, Single Copy Cluster (meaning one CMS per server really) and it is not the default installation. The default is now Continuous Cluster Replication (CCR) which is something new to Exchange Server 2007,

You still install and configure clustering first, then install Exchange. But passive and active nodes are supposed to be handled differently now. And active/active clustering is simply not allowed anymore Big Smile  I would use setup.exe or the GUI to install both nodes as passive. This will put the Exchange bits on machine, but won't create the CMS just yet. From the command prompt you would use something like this syntax: /mode:install /roles:mb

Which would should come back with:

Welcome to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unattended Setup Preparing Exchange Setup    
Copying Setup Files              ......................... COMPLETED
The following server roles will be installed
    Management Tools
    Mailbox Role
Performing Microsoft Exchange Server Prerequisite Check
Mailbox Role Checks              ......................... COMPLETED
 Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server    

Copying Exchange files           ......................... COMPLETED
    Mailbox Server Role              ......................... COMPLETED

 The Microsoft Exchange Server setup operation completed successfully.

Do this for both nodes. Then on the Active node you will need to run exsetup.exe. Why? Because of this little gem in the books online:

If you already have one or more server roles installed on a computer, you cannot use the Exchange Server 2007 Setup wizard or the Setup.exe command to add or remove server roles. Instead, you must use the ExSetup.exe command.

DOH! Not knowing this means you can try Setup.exe until you are blue in the face and never get Exchange clustered.

So the ExSetup.exe to create the CMS is (replace CMSNAME with a real meanful name, replace cip with a real IP):

exsetup /mode:install /clustered /cn:CMSNAME /cip:

Which would should come back with:

Welcome to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unattended Setup
No server roles will be installed
Clustered Mailbox Server

Performing Microsoft Exchange Server Prerequisite Check
Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server
Clustered Mailbox Server         ......................... COMPLETED
 The Microsoft Exchange Server setup operation completed successfully.

This should create all the clustered resource Exchange needs.

Why not install the bits and create all the clustered resources together with the Setup.exe command? The syntax would look like this: /mode:install /roles:mb /newcms /cn:CMSNAME /cip:

If you Active Directory is large it could take a little bit for the CMS to be registered properly, in that case you might get an error this like:

Welcome to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unattended Setup

No server roles will be installed

Clustered Mailbox Server
 Performing Microsoft Exchange Server Prerequisite Check    
Clustered Mailbox Role Checks    ......................... COMPLETED
 Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server    

Clustered Mailbox Server         ......................... FAILED

     The computer account 'CMSNAME' was created on the domain controller '\\', but has not replicated to the desired domain controller ( after waiting approxmately 60 seconds. Please wait for the account to replicate and re-run exsetup /newcms.
The Exchange Server setup operation did not complete. Visit and enter the Error ID to find more information.

So, you only get 60 seconds for AD to fully replicate - DOH! Interesting. See AD was using our DNS (dc02) on the Public, but the Exchange was on the private near dc01. The spelling error is Microsoft's by the way, not mine. You can add / but setup will fail if the DNS is not on the same AD site as the Exchange server. You will see this error:

Setup cannot use domain controller '' because it belongs to Active Directory site 'Public'. Setup must use a domain controller in the same site as this computer (Private).

Other DNS messages you might get:

Exchange setup cannot continue because DNS information for the clustered mailbox server "CMSNAME" has not finished replicating. Please run setup again after replication has completed. After replication has completed, the command  "nslookup CMSNAME" should succeed.

This one again means you need to let it bake some more, let DNS replicate. Check your event logs. In some environments, you might have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for things to settle down. Just rerun the exsetup command again.

Lastly you might get this error:

Error of unknown type occured while performing exsetdata operation; the original error code was 0xc103fd2c

This means might have a duplicate DNS record that needs to be removed before CMSNAME be created. Check your event logs for the exact error and believe them! The spelling error is again Microsoft's not mine. If Exchange can't create the record look for duplicates.

If after all that you just want to give up, the command would look like this:

exsetup /mode:uninstall /removecms /cmsname:CMSNAME

So why am I only showing you the command line for ExSetup.exe? Because you can only run the GUI seutp once, after that you have to use ExSetup.exe.

Good luck, check your event logs and hopefully this will help someone else out.

15 Rules of IT

1) If a computer or system is working on Monday, something has gone wrong and you just don't know about it.

2) When you don't know what you're doing, document it.

3) Computer errors must be reproduce-able, they should fail the same way each time.

4) First call tech support, then panic.

5) Experience is directly proportional to the number of systems/computers ruined.

6) Always keep a backup of your data, and hope everyone else does the same.

7) To write a program really well, have your wife/husband/Mother/Father test it.

8) If you can't get the system to match the Statement of Work (SOW), redo the SOW.

9) In case you experience doubt, make it sound convincing.

10) Do not believe in miracles--rely on them.

11) The technical term is H.O.S.E.D. (Hardware Or Software Error Detected), use it often and amaze your friends.

12) When it starts working; and hopefully it will, you fixed it in case anyone asks.

13) No troubleshooting experience is a complete failure. At least it can serve as a negative example.

14) Any expensive piece of software will break before any use can be made of it.

15) Team work is essential, it allows you to blame someone else.


This is an original post, feel free to reproduce as long as you give credit.

Tech Ed 2007 - Orlando - notes from the field

Its that time of year again. The masses gather to learn from the best, talk to the experts, network with others. This year I am not only speaking at the conference, I am also helping at the TCL Yellow Section - Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering POD. Here is a sample of what people want to know:

Q.  Can I upgrade from Windows Server 2003 to 2008?

A. NO! Migration is the only and best way to go.


Q. Will Exchange Server 2007 run on Windows Server 2008 Beta 3?

A. Exchange Server 2007 does not run on the Beta of Windows Server 2008. Exchange will run on Windows Server 2003 and the final (RTM) copy of Windows Server 2008.


Q. Can I cluster Virtual Machines running Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2?

A. Yes you can!


Q. What is really new about Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2008?

A. Great question, here is some highlights:

  • No service account - now uses a local system account
  • No support for Parallel Attached SCSI (PAS), this allows for better hardware control and failover
  • 16 nodes if you use a 64-bit edition of Windows Server 2008
  • Support for GPT disks, yes larger than 2TB disks are now supported natively
  • Validate - ensure your systems are cluster ready and help you follow best practices
  • 4 Quorum models, no more single point of failure for the quorum
    • Majority quorum model
    • Majority of Nodes
    • Witness disk
    • File Share Witness
  • Improved IPSec, no more 7 minute timeout when failed over!
  • Stretched clusters can have nodes in different network segments with various speeds
  • Cluster Migration Tool - to help you migrate :)
  • MMC 3.0 snap-in, no longer a seperate application
  • Setup/install 2003 was 23 steps, now 3 steps. Yes I said 3 steps

New Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering Course

IF you are not coming to Tech Ed to listen to me speak about it, this is the next best thing:

Course 6051: Implementing High Availability and Virtualization in Windows Server 2008 (Beta)

2 Hours of learning for a very low price.

Cluster Validation in Windows Server "Longhorn" - by Jim Teague

This session was great today and will be available online - the event code is 1032336489.

 Here are the Q&A that may not be part of the rebroadcast:

Will Longhorn Cluster Validation include any application-specific best practice guidelines (i.e. Exchange)?
The Longhorn Validation tool will test the core cluster requirements, there are tools available to test individual applications. Such as the Exchange Best Practice analyzer. In future releases we may make Validate extendable to include application plug-in's
what are the boundaries / limits for the network and disk I/O latencies?
If networking exceeds 500 ms or if I/O latency exceeds 1 sec, it will generate a Warning. Cluster heartbeating and cluster presistent reservation timing is configurable in Longhorn. So you can evaluate the warning, and adjust your timing as necessary
Does the Validate tool report if the entire configuration is in the "Windows Server Catalog" as a Microsoft Certified Cluster
In Windows Server Longhorn, we are radically changing the way we qualify clusters for supportablity. Validate will define supportability, we are moving away from the model of having clusters listed on the Windows Server Catalog
what kind of issues can be self healing?
In Windows Server 2003 the way disks were identified was by the Disk Signature. In Longhorn clustered disks are identified by multiple attributes, including the Disk Signature and the SCSI Inquiry data. If a disk can't be found by one attribute, it will attempted to be found in another way. If found the service will self heal and update it's records of the disk. So in Longhorn disks will self heal and should elimate support issues of disk signatures changing and disks not coming online
can we achieve full hardware failover? how?
Failover Clustering is loosely coupled clustering, services and applications can failover from one machine to another. This can be done with standard hardware
How are you working with the HW vendors so the HW we buy today is Longhorn Cluster Certified? When should we expect to see those certifications?
We are actively working with all storage vendors to ensure Longhorn Cluster compatability. Most current shipping storage today is compatible. We recommend downloading beta 3 and trying out your hardware to verify compatibility, and talking to your hardware vendors.
Please provide hardware compatibility list for server in order to support Longhorn
In Longhorn there will be no static list on the Windows Server Catalog that defines supportability. You use the Validate tool to test your hardware. If Validate passes, your solution is compatible and you are supported
Are there any virtual labs or other means to "try" out Longhorn clustering?
You can download Beta 3 and try out clustering for yourself, see We will also have a Longhorn Hands-on-Lab available with Tech-Ed '07, you will see it post after the event to
Demo resolution is way too high...
what is your resolution?
will the tool work on geo clusters?
Yes, you can use Validate to test stretched clusters. Note: The storage tests will be skipped on clusters with no shared storage.
do virtual disks created by Microsoft virtual server support the presistent reservation, if it does not when will this be available?
Virtual Server 2005 R2 uses a virtual parallel-SCSI adapter to cluster shared disks with Windows Server 2003. In Longhorn support for parallel-SCSI has been depricated, so you can not use the built in parallel-SCSI virtual adapters to create Longhorn clusters. You can use the Microsoft iSCSI Software Initator and a iSCSI target to create a Longhorn Clusters
Can we cluster GPT disks in Longhorn
Yes, you can cluster GPT disks in Longhorn and with Windows Server 2003 that has Service Pack 2 and 919117 applied
When you say the validation is required, does that mean a failed validation will prevent going forward with a cluster build?
You 'can' choose to bypass the Validation and create a cluster. Note: A cluster is not supported by Microsoft unless it passes Validate
Will there be corresponding updates to the cluster testing tools in the HCT (hardware compatibility test) tool for IHVs?
Yes, we will ship a Cluster HCT kit in DTM for vendors to test solution. However, vendors will not be required to submit logs to Microsoft for inclusion on the Windows Server Catalog. It is for internal testing
Are there any plans for Longhorn clustering to support clustering of Virtual Servers, the Virtual Server role included with Longhorn?
Yes, Longhorn will have extensive integration with with Failover Clustering and Microsoft Virtualization. Which will support failing over of VM's from one host to another with VERY fast failover times.
for Geo clusters, will they be supported even thou the storage check is skipped
Yes, stretched clusters will be supported if the storage tests are skipped, this is expected with these types of configurations.
can the ClusPrep v2.0 tool be run multiple times over the lifecycle of the cluster for revalidation when needed?
Yes, Validate can be run again... and is intended to be. If you make a change to your cluster (add a node, apply a new HBA driver, etc..) you then run Validate again to ensure the cluster works correctly. You can also use Validate as a diagnostic tool to troubleshoot clusters. Having problems failing over a disk?... Run validate and it should help give you information to troubleshoot the issue
Since this replaces the HCL, will the toool itself be supported? (In the past, Clusdiag and similar tools were not supported)
Validate is built right into Windows Server and is a fully supported tool
Do both node need to be on line at the same time, when the cluster test is running
Yes, when running Validate the machines that are going to be tested must be up and online to be tested
Can the tool be run against an already formed cluster? That is, will every test be able to be run? (previous betas of this tool required unformed clusters)
Yes, you can run Validate on a configured cluster. The only catch is that in order for a disk to be tested, it must be Offline. So you can run Validate and run it on all disks, or a sub-set of the disks. Just bring the disks Offline to run Validate against them

New Clustering Blog in Town


John Toner the long time clustering and Geo-Clustering Guru has a blog now. This is truly exciting news...

Dell PowerEdge 2850 Hardware issues

Dell we have a problem.

It has come to my attention that ALL DELL PE2850's have a hardware issue. It seems the dudes at Dell really messed up some firmware updates. If you are not running BIOS A06 and BMC 1.68 or higher download Dell's Server Update Utility 5.1.1. ( or later (I have only tested 5.1.1 though). Get 5.2 here

So what happens if you are running the bad version? CPU IERR EO7F0 on every CPU in the machine at the same time. And then you get the famous Dell amber flashing light. Every OS locks up without processors, no really they do. If you call Dell Support (which I have done), you get greeted by a tech that says "Hi, welcome to Dell support. Please update your firmware and BIOS.". DOH!


Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Beta 3 is out

But if you want to test failover clustering....

Standard SCSI based clustering will no longer work (yes I tested it, no go). 

Rocket Division StarWind will be the product you want to use to test Failover Clustering. You will have to wait until the June 2007 time frame while they make it work with Beta 3.

FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server I am not sure when they will support it.

Microsoft bought StringBean ( which has a great WinTarget program. The program is now part of Windows Unified Data Storage Server and it called Microsoft iSCSI Software Target. That one works today, if you are lucky enough to have a copy.

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