Installing Failover Clustering on Server 2012

This is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a failover cluster in Windows Server 2012. First we will install the failover clustering feature, with the management tools. Then we will create the cluster, and finally we will install a role on the cluster. In Server 2012, clustered services and applications are called clustered roles. There is actually not much difference in creating a cluster on Windows Server 2012 than in Windows Server 2008 R2.

1. Information on setup of the cluster nodes

There will be two nodes in the cluster we are going to create. Both of them have three NICs each, and both are running Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition.

Server04: Nic1, ip=, subnetmask=, DNS preferred=
          Nic2, ip=, subnetmask=
          Nic3, ip=, subnetmask=
Server05: Nic1, ip=, subnetmask=, DNS preffered=
          Nic2, ip=, subnetmask=
          Nic3, ip=, subnetmask=


The NICs will serve the following purpose;
Production – The clients will connect to the cluster resources through this NIC
iSCSI – The nodes of the cluster will connect to the shared storage through this NIC
Heartbeat – The heartbeat signal between the two nodes will be sent through this NIC

2. Installation of Failover Clustering Feature

You obviously need to install the Failover Clustering feature on both nodes.

2.1 Start Server Manager, and on the Dashboard select Add roles and features

2.2 Click Next on the Add Roles and Features Wizard’s first page

2.3 Role-based or feature-based installation is selected by default, so click next again

2.4 Local Server is selected by default, click next again

2.5 You are not installing any roles, so just click next

2.6 Select Failover Clustering

2.7 You will be asked if you want to install management tools for the failover clustering feature, click Add Features

2.8 Then click next

2.9 Click Install

2.10 Click Close when the installation is finished

3. Validate and create the Cluster

3.1 Start Failover Cluster Manager from Administrative Tools on either Server04 or Server05.
3.2 Right-click Failover Cluster Manager and select Validate Configuration

3.3 Validate a Configuration Wizard starts. It will check the hardware and software configuration of all the cluster nodes and report on any issues that might prevent the cluster from being created. Click Next

3.4 Click Browse

3.5 Write the name of the nodes, in this instance it will be Server04;Server05, click Check Names, and then click OK

3.6 Click Next

3.7 Click Next to run all tests

3.8 Click Next to start the tests

3.9 After the tests are finished, you will be presented with the following screen. Here you can click View Report, to view the report

3.10 As you can see I received some warnings, if you click on the link in the report, you can see what the warning is about. The report will be saved at %systemroot%\Cluster\Reports , so you can review it any time you like.

3.11 I have some unsigned drivers on the cluster nodes. You should try to find out the cause of all warnings, by reviewing them one by one. In my case, its just a test environment on VirtualBox, so obviously there are going to be some warnings of trivial matter, and in a test lab you can safely ignore all warnings of trivial matter. If you receive any errors though, then they must be corrected before the cluster can be created.

3.12 At the summary page of Validate a Configuration Wizard, make sure Create the cluster now using the validated nodes is selected, and then click Finish

3.13 This will start the Create Cluster Wizard, click next on the first page

3.14 Type the name you want to assign to the cluster, and then give it an IP address. As you remember, Nic1 was for the production environment, therefore remove the checkmark for the other two Nics and only assign the cluster an address in the segment, such as for example. Then click Next

3.15 In Server 2012, you can add all eligible storage to the cluster during it’s creation. Click Next

3.16 Click Finish on the Summary page

3.17 You will be presented to the cluster you just created

4. Configure Quorum Type on the Cluster

4.1 As you can see in the previous picture, since I did not initially have any shared storage on the nodes, the cluster set the Quorum configuration to Node Majority. I will just go ahead and change it to Node and File Share Majority

4.2 First create the share you are going to use as file share witness, on another server

4.2.1. Log on to the server that will host the file share with a user that has sufficient rights
4.2.2. Create a directory for the file share; mkdir C:\Cluster02
4.2.3  Create the file share and assign the appropriate permissions
4.2.3a. net share Cluster02=C:\Cluster02 /\Cluster02$,FULL
4.2.3b. cacls C:\Cluster02 /G BUILTIN\Administrators:F\Cluster02$:F

Step 4.2.3a will grant full control share permissions to the Cluster02 Virtual Computer Object on the shared folder
Step 4.2.3b will grant full control NTFS permissions to the Cluster02 Virtual Computer Object on the shared folder

4.3 On Server04, in Failover Cluster manager, right-click, choose More Actions, and then choose Configure Cluster Quorum Settings

4.4 Click Next

4.5 Choose Add or change the Quorum witness, and then click next. There are some new Quorum options in Server 2012, which I will explain in a later post, for now we can just keep it simple.

4.6 Select Configure a file share witness, and click next

4.7 Write the path to the share we created in step 4.2, or browse to it, then click Next → Next → Finish

5. Configure Role

5.1 We will configure the File Server role on the cluster. But before we can do that, we need to add the File and iSCSI Services role on both nodes.
5.2 Start Server Manager → Add roles and features → Next → Next → Select node you are installing the role on and click Next again
5.3 On Server role page, expand File and Storage Services, then expand File and iSCSI services, choose File Server and File Server Resource Manager

5.4 You will be asked if you want to install management tools for FSRM, click Add features

5.5 Click Next → Next → Install

6. Configure Role on the Cluster

6.1 In Failover Cluster Manager, right-click, and choose Configure Role

6.2 Click Next

6.3 Choose File Server, since that is the role we are going to install, and then click Next

6.4 Choose File Server for general use, and then click Next (I will cover the two different types of clustered file server in a later post)

6.5 Give your Clustered File Server a name, and an IP-address (in the production range), such as FileServer01 and

6.6 Assign it any available shared storage, click Next – Next – Finish

6.7 You will be presented with the clustered file server you just created. And that’s it, you now have a clustered file server clients can connect to, and which will automatically failover to the second node, if the first node fails.

Since we created the virtual computer object of the clustered file server in the Computers container of the domain, you will see the following warning

The reason for this warning is explained in this KB by Microsoft

Additional Resources:
Microsoft Technet: Failover Clustering Overview