StarWind Virtual SAN® SQL Server HADR using Availability Groups and Failover Cluster Instance

Published: June 2017

The Always On Availability Groups feature was introduced in SQL Server 2012 and allows implementing high availability and disaster recovery scenarios. An Availability Group (AG) supports a replicated environment for a discrete set of user databases known as availability databases. It supports one set of primary databases and one to eight sets of corresponding secondary databases.

This technical paper provides a detailed guidance describing how to set up a High Availability and Disaster Recovery solution by combining an SQL Server Failover Cluster Instance (FCI) and Availability Group in a 3-node scenario.

The first step is to create a 2-node SQL Failover Cluster by adding S1 and S2 nodes to it. The database, residing on the cluster nodes, will hold the primary replica of the Availability Group, while the S3 node will serve as a standalone server holding the secondary replica.

Once the first two nodes are joined into the cluster, a new standalone instance of SQL Server must be installed on the S3 node. The features, drive letter and the location where SQL Server data, log, and Tempdb will reside, should be the same for the FCI and the standalone database, otherwise, the failover will not work.

Upon completion, the S3 SQL Server must be added to a WSFC cluster containing S1 and S2 nodes. The S3 node will act as a Secondary Database for the Availability Group.

The next step prior to configuring the Availability Group between SQL Server FCI and the third node is to take the database out of the Pseudo-Simple Recovery Model and switch to the Full Recovery Model by performing a full backup of the database.

Once that is done, the last step is to create a new AG and add an Availability Group Listener, providing the ability to connect to the primary replica regardless of the node that hosts it.

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