How to Configure Windows Server 2012 R2 Continuously Available File Shares Cluster

– Failover cluster provide high availability and scalability to many server workloads and on this article we will install the File Server feature and to make it Continuously Available File Shares Cluster (CAFS). Prior to Windows Server 2012 R2, highly available file services were provided by failover cluster Client Access Point (CAP) that clients could use to connect to SMB (Server Message Block) or Network File System (NFS) shares in your network LAN.

By choosing Continuously Available File Shares Cluster we can do

  • Transparent failover of application data storage
  • Application sees contained IO delay
  • Servicing without downtime

and we can use this feature for free from Microsoft if you already have license of Windows 2012 R2 and Reliable low-cost file storage to deploy. Below is the Deployment Scenarios that can be integrated with

  • Server application storage platform
  • File Server consolidation
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

In this How to Im running this in Virtual. Assuming you already configured your Windows 2012 R2 Standard 64bit and network is ready and also for this one to work it require

  1. Make sure the two server is joined to Active Directory
  2. Create service account that will be use in configuring the cluster
  3. Create dedicated OU folder in your Active Directory and assign the proper permission for this to work
  4. And their should be minimum of two disk sharing between the two VMs usually this is configured via SCSI or CSV for Microsoft or if VMware make sure the disk is shared and configured with multi-writer
    • 1 for Quorum disk
    • 1 or more to use for data file sharing disk
  5. Make sure that you already have prepared the FQDN or DNS hostnames (note all the IPs make sure are in single subnet i.e: 192.168.0.xx
    • 2 FQDN for VM1 and VM2
    • 1 FQDN for Virtual Clustername
    • 1 FQDN for Virtual DNS name that will be use by end user to access the shared folder

 

Step 1: Before we begin make sure your VM1 and VM2 is joined in Active Directory and you are using your service account to Login and install the Roles. Now RDP to your VM1 and enable the ‘Failover Cluster’ feature by doing that in your Server Manager dashboard click the ‘Add roles and Features’

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Step 2: Enable the check box for ‘Failover Clustering’ and a new windows with the pre-requisites will open make sure the checkbox for ‘Include management tools’ is enabled and click ‘Add Features’

 

 

And leave the rest default click, click, and install

 

NOTE: Once its done there will be gray font below the status bar that says ‘Installation succeeded on VM1 and do this the same for VM2. And if you click ‘Tools’ -> ‘Failover Cluster Manager’ to continue configuring.

 

 

Step 3: In the right side panel click ‘Create Cluster’

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And then click ‘Browse’ and from the pop-up windows change the properties to ‘Computer’ and then type the VM1 and VM2 hostname in that windows and click ‘Okay’

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Step 4: Its recommended to run the configuration validation tests before creating cluster.

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Note: Its best practice to check the reports by viewing or clicking the ‘View Report’ in here it will show some warning and sometimes there is a critical icon too make sure you check the critical because some instance the warning is okay to ignore such i.e: network because this is VM we will only run single NIC however the best practice is two for LACP if we are running Physical machine/server in this case we can ignore this as we are using VM.

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Step 5: In the ‘Cluster Name’ textbox type your virtual cluster FQDN and its IP address this will be use to create cluster between the two host VM1 and VM2

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Click ‘View Report’ to verify if there’s any warning or critical icons that need to fix before proceeding to the next step

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Once its done click the ‘Node’ and you will see both of your VM1 and VM2 is running okay or status is up

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Step 6: Make sure both VMs is configured for disk sharing before adding the storages that will be use for quorum and data disk and format this to NTFS file system if its more than 2TB disk its advice to change to GPT so that it can be supported.

  • Disk 1: is the quorum disk
  • Disk 2: is the data files disk

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Step 7: Go back to ‘Failover Cluster Manager’ select ‘Storage’ -> Disks -> Add disk. And then select all the available disk

 

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Step 8: Configure the Quorum disk to enable the VM1 and VM2 to become the same vote to each other.

Right Click the clustername -> More Actions -> Configure Cluster Quorum Settings

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Then choose “Select the quorum witness” You can add or change the quorum witness. The Cluster determines the other quorum management option

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And select “Configure a disk witness”

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Make sure to only select the disk that will be assign for the quorum for this I only assign 5GB disk for it.

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Note: After the quorum is configured notice that the ‘Current Vote’ status is change from 1-0 to 1-1 for both the VM compared to step 5

 

Step 9: Now that the server cluster configuration is done we need to enable the “File Sharing Server” Role.

Open Server Manager -> Add roles -> Server Roles -> File and Storage Services -> enable File Server & File Server Resource Manager

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Note: Repeat Step 9 to configure the VM2. Make sure both VMs has this feature enabled or else there will be errors popping out.

 

Step 10: Right click on the virtual cluster name and click Roles then click Configure Role…

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Select “File Server” This feature provides a central location on your network where files are shared for use by users or by applications

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Step 11: Select the File Server for General use. This option supports both the server message block (SMB) and Network File System (NFS) protocols. It also support Data Deduplication.

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Then select the Cluster disk

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Step 12: Create shared folder. In the right Action pane click the ‘Add File Share’

After you click “Add File Share” this is the windows you will be seeing. Select ‘SMB Share – Advance’ This is advanced profile offeres additional option to configure a SMB file share. Set the folder owners for access-denied assistance, configure default classification of data in the folder for management and access policies and Enable quota for each folder.

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Select which Drive you want to create the ‘Share’ folder

 

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And the name of the share folder

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Step 13: “Enable access-based enumeration”: this is to display only the files and folders that a user/users has permission to access and the rest will be hidden. And make sure the ‘Enable continues availability’ is check: this feature track file operations on highly available file shares so that clients can fail over to another node of the cluster without interruption.

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Step 14: This is the part where you need to add permissions using the Active Directory users or groups to access the files on a share

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Step 15: Select what category of this share folder if its User Files, Group Files, Application Files, or Backup and Archive Files. The purpose of the folder and the type of files stored in it, and is used by data management policies such as classification rules.

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Step 16: Assign the quota policy that was created in the other wizard. You can create new policy by opening the

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Step 17: Create quota templates.

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Its done. Now you can access the share folder by typing this in your File Explorer window \\fileshare.mytechrepublic.com\Finance2

 

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