Installing and Configuring a SQL Server Failover Clustered Instance on Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines

Published: August 2015

This document is a guide for experienced Windows system administrators, IT professionals, and SQL Server database administrators who would like to install and configure a 2-node Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Cluster that will host a SQL Server failover clustered instance (FCI) on Azure virtual machines.

When deployed on an Azure virtual machine, the underlying Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) must use Azure hosted storage with one of the following options:
  • Application-level replication for non-shared storage
  • Volume-level replication for non-shared storage
  • ExpressRoute for remote iSCSI Target shared block storage
  • Azure Files for shared file storage

The Azure hosted storage that will be used for building a WSFC will leverage StarWind Virtual SAN for the implementation of volume-level replication.

Proper network architecture design is key to successfully implementing a SQL Server failover clustered instance on Azure. There are at least two virtual network adapters (vNICs) for the WSFC nodes – one for production traffic and one for cluster heartbeat and storage volume replication. It is recommended to have more than two vNICs to achieve quality of service (QoS) and fault tolerance for both the cluster and storage replication. However, there are certain considerations when creating Azure virtual machines with more than one vNIC, which are described in the document.

At a high-level, below are the following steps for that need to be taken for installing and configuring a SQL Server failover clustered instance on Azure virtual machines:
1. Creating an Azure cloud-only virtual network (VNet)
2. Creating an Azure cloud service
3. Creating an Azure storage account
4. Creating and Configuring Azure virtual machines
5. Adding an Azure hosted data disk to the virtual machines used for the WSFC nodes
6. Installing and Configuring an Active Directory Domain Controller
7. Configuring the WSFC Nodes
8. Installing and Configuring StarWind Virtual SAN
9. Discovering iSCSI Target Portals
10. Connecting iSCSI Targets and Configuring Multi-pathing
11. Initializing and Formatting the Disks
12. Running the Failover Cluster Validation Wizard
13. Creating the Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Cluster
14. Fixing the Windows Server Failover Cluster Client Access Point
15. Configuring Cluster Quorum Settings
16. Install SQL Server on a Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Cluster
17. Adding a Node on a SQL Server Failover Clustered Instance
18. Creating an Azure Internal Load Balancer
19. Updating the SQL Server Failover Clustered Instance Virtual Network Name

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