Configure and Test MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox

MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox

Do you think still you need special physical servers and storage devices to configure and test Microsoft cluster environment? It’s not, time has changed now. A single computer allows to install latest Windows 2008 R2 and Network Access Storage (NAS) by desktop virtualization software and configure failover cluster. This post shows how to install, configure and test MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox.

Sysprobs already covered how to setup Windows 2008 R2 Failover cluster on VMware workstation with FreeNAS. This is very similar to it but goes with VirtualBox.

What you need?

1) Latest Oracle VirtualBox

2) Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Server version

3) FreeNAS

4) Minimum 3GB RAM and 30GB Hard disk space on host computer

5) Make sure Hardware Virtualization Technology (VT) and 64 Bit architecture is enabled on Host computer – Read more here.

MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox Step by Step Guide

I’m assuming you are an IT guy already, so very detailed steps are not included.

Follow the important steps.

1) Create two 2008 R2 virtual machines (with minimum 512MB RAM and 10GB HDD).

Check this post for how to install Windows 2008 R2 OS on VirtualBox. R2 comes in 64 bit version only. Install R2 Enterprise full version on both virtual machines.

2) If you have enough memory on host computer, then create one more R2 virtual machine for domain controller. Otherwise go with any Windows 2003 versions to reduce memory allocation.

3) Install VirtualBox guest additions on all machines and take snapshot.

4) Configure network type to ‘Internal’ or ‘Host-only’ adapter type and check network connectivity among all servers.

5) Setup DNS and domain controller services on the virtual machine configured in step 2.

6) Change server names and join both servers (created on step 1) to domain. Log in with domain administrator when restarts.

7) Create and install FreeNAS on VirtualBox as separate virtual machine. More information on installing and setting up FreeNAS on VirtualBox.

8.) Create a quorum disk and three 2GB iSCSI disks for cluster.

MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox

9) Add second network adapter in VirtualBox settings for both cluster servers. This adapter will be configured for ‘Heartbeat network’.

Set network type to ‘internal’ and assign separate IP address range than normal network. Make sure both nodes are communicating through this network also.

10) Connect the iSCSI disks from one server through iSCSI initiator. In disk management make them online, initialize, create simple volume and format in NTFS format with proper drive names.

MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox

Connecting FreeNAS iSCSI disks to Windows 2008 R2 server is very similar to Windows 7 method. More information available here to connect iSCSI disks to Windows 7.

After formatted and named the volumes, make them offline again.

11) Go to other cluster node and connect same iSCSI disks. Make them online and initialize. Confirm the same volume size and name you did on earlier step from first node. Make them offline once all correct.

12) Change the Local area networks name including heartbeat network on both servers to same name.

Install failover cluster feature in both servers under Features in server management.

13) Go to failover cluster and start validating before creating.

MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox

The final result showed one warning for me.It is not a problem because its not a critical error.

MS Cluster on VirtualBox

14) Now create a cluster. If validate result was success in earlier method, then you can create successfully. Here is the running Windows 2008 R2 failover cluster on VirtualBox before any applications or services installed on cluster.

MS Cluster on VirtualBox

If you are looking for a very detailed step by step guide for R2 failover clustering then read this guide or download this PDF (with different type of storage) and apply it on VirtualBox.

Running a latest MS cluster on normal computer with VirtualBox is really cool and good for learning purpose. I showed these all steps on my normal Intel computer with 3GB RAM, all worked fine except little slowness which I don’t mind.

Make sure DNS is working properly on network to avoid problems in creating cluster. I used FreeNAS for this, because it supports SCSI-3 persistent reservation disks (compulsory for Windows 2008 R2 cluster) and completely free product.

Share the difficulties you face in this method. I will be happy to help you.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

3 thoughts on “Configure and Test MS Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster on VirtualBox”

  1. I just read through the entire write-up of yours and it was really good. That is an awesome report thank you for sharing this informative facts. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

  2. Hi and thank you for the article.

    What do you think about hardware requirements for this solution? Will i5-520m be able to handle such setup with fast io (ssd)? What do you think about performance of this solution with windows 7 ultimate as the host, comparing to windows 2008r2 and hyper-v?

    My main goal is to test sql server 2008r2 failover cluster.


  3. Hi,

    I think your article is wonderful and all makes sense, maybe except one step which I don’t understand for the moment (not sure why this is needed):
    4) Configure network type to ‘Internal’ or ‘Host-only’ adapter type and check network connectivity among all servers.

    I’m actually planning to try this out with bridged adapter, as I will want to use an “outside” Dc, which isn’t on this host.

    Thank you.

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