High availability of a ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 Site is something that is regularly required by customers who ask for my assistance in deploying it.
One major item of deploying high availability is having the site database highly available.
The supported configurations are available at the following location:
However, I notice that nothing is mentioned if AlwaysOn availability groups are supported by ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 or not. I can’t really get a clear statement from Microsoft either if this is supported or not. So I’ve decided to find out myself.
First, I built an SQL 2012 Availability Group using the following steps:
- I installed 2 Windows Server 2012 machines, each with a single NIC
- I created a 2 node cluster without using shared storage
- On both machines, I installed a stand-alone SQL 2012 instance which match the ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 SQL requirements. I used the default instance on both machines. I used a user account to start the SQL Services and I made sure firewall ports TCP 1433 and TCP 5022 are allowed (honestly I disabled to firewall completely to keep my test simple, it’s a lab environment anyway)
- I created a dummy database to establish the AlwaysOn cluster (database is of the ‘full’ type model), I also made a backup of this database
- I created the AlwaysOn group and the AlwaysOn listener. I also provided a network share on a separate machine for facilitatin the AlwaysOn replicas. One SQL server is the Primary machine, the other one is the secondary
- I setup the database for full synchronization
- After this step I the Availability Group is created successfully
I have 3 names I could provide during ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 setup:
- The FQDN of the Windows cluster
- The FQDN of the Listener
- The FQDN of the Primary SQL server of the AlwaysOn Availability Group
Option 1 didn’t work. While ConfigMgr Setup allowed me to continue until the Prerequisite Check, I received an error message:
The failing prerequisite is “Primary FQDN” (Configuration Manager only supports the use of primary FQDN’s, where the DNS hostname (first label in the FQDN) matches the NetBIOS hostname of the computer. The FQDN provided for this site system does not meet this requirement and cannot be used. Correct the FQDN and try again.).
Option 2 didn’t work either. I immediately received an error message:
The Network Path is not valid.
Option 3 worked but that is not a HA solution.
To me this means it’s not possible to install ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 using a SQL 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Group, it doesn’t work.
I learned that you can successfully create an AlwaysOn Availability Group on a cluster with shared storage. To be honest, I don’t see the added value for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1. ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 has a lot of functionalities by itself regarding the Site Database so don’t really need to use the functionality SQL 2012 provides.
To provide high availability for the Site database, you have the following options:
- Use a cluster with shared storage
- When using virtual machines, provide failover facilities on the hypervisor level by having a hypervisor cluster or use a replica server that Hyper-V 3.0 offers…
I also need to verify with Microsoft if AlwaysOn is actually supported since TechNet doesn’t state anything about this.
UPDATE: after some digging on TechNet I found the following link which gives an overview which System Center 2012 SP1 products support AlwaysOn:
Here’s a clear statement that only ConfigMgr and DPM are not supported…