Installing SQL 2016 Always On with Windows Server 2016 Core
This will be a simple walk through of installing two Windows Server 2016 Core servers, then installing SQL 2016, and setting up SQL Always On replication between them. This is meant for lab testing and getting familiar with the scenario. This setup is incredibly simple and straightforward, and fast. You can have this scenario up and running in just a few minutes.
First, deploy two VM’s. Nothing fancy (2GB RAM, 2 vCPU’s, 1 disk) is fine for a lab deployment.
I will name mine: SQLCORE1 and SQLCORE2.
Install Windows Server 2016, and choose the default option of Windows Server Core (no GUI):
When the install is complete, log in by creating a password. You are now ready to begin configuration.
From the command line, run PowerShell.
We will configure static IP’s and DNS on each server. Change these to match your lab:
Next – we will join the domain and rename the computer when prompted. Type “sconfig” and press enter.
From the menu – choose “1”. Choose Domain, and provide your domain and domain credentials to be able to join.
When prompted, choose “Yes” to change the computer name. Provide the new computername you want for your SQL core servers. Mine are SQLCORE1 and SQLCORE2.
Reboot when prompted.
You must log in as the local administrator after the reboot. Then, type “logoff” and hit enter. Now you can log in as your domain admin account in the domain. Hit ESC to get back to “other user” and log in as a domain account.
Add the domain group for your SQL admin’s to the local administrators group at the command prompt:
net localgroup administrators /add OPSMGR\SQLAdmins
At this point you can log in as one of your SQL Administrator accounts, or continue the installation as your domain admin account.
Map a drive to your SQL 2016 installation media:
Net use Y: \\server\software\sql\2016\ENT
Install SQL server from the command line. There are two ways to install SQL. From a command line with options, or from an INI file. The INI file is much more powerful, but to keep things simple we will use a command line here. This basic install will cover the SQL database engine, the Full-text service, and set the SQL agent service to run as automatic startup. You will need to change your domain group for the SQL admins, and your SQL service account and password.
Next – we will create a cluster. You can create a simple failover cluster between two nodes in a single line of PowerShell! You will need to change your cluster name, IP address, and node names to match your configuration. Only run this on ONE NODE!
(This step assumes you are running this as a domain admin, as this will create a computer account in the domain for the virtual cluster computer. If you do not wish to run this as a domain admin, you must pre-stage that account and assign permissions. See cluster documentation for this)
You might see a warning at this point. That’s fine – they are likely just because we have a single NIC in each VM, and because we didn’t configure a witness.
Next, we need to enable each server to support SQL Always On. You will need to provide your SERVERNAME\INSTANCENAME. If you use the default instance like we did above, input just the servername. Do this on each node, but change the servername to match the correct node name you are running it on.
$ServerInstance= 'SQLCORE1' #this should be in format SERVERNAME\INSTANCENAME or just use servername for default instanceEnable-SqlAlwaysOn -ServerInstance $ServerInstance-Force
Lastly – we need to configure the Always On availability group. This is easiest done manually, via SQL management studio from a remote tools machine.
Launch SQL management studio and connect to the SQLCORE1 server:
First, we need to create a “dummy” database ONLY on SQLCORE1 which is required to configure and test Always On. Go to Databases, right click, and choose New Database. Name the Database “TESTDB” and click OK.
Before we can use a database in Always On, it must have at least one previous backup. Right click TESTDB, tasks, Back Up. Hit OK to accept defaults, and OK when backup is done.
Now expand “Always On High Availability”, and Right Click “Availability Groups” and choose “New Availability Group Wizard”
Assign an AG name. This isn’t terribly important. I will use “SQLCOREAG1” and click Next.
Select your TestDB and click Next.
Add a replica, and choose your other server, SQLCORE2. Check the boxes next to Auto failover and Synchronous commit on both servers.
On the Listener tab, create an Availability group listener. I will use “SQLCOREAGL1” We will use port 1764 (which we set up a previous Firewall rule for). You will need to scroll down to the bottom right and click “Add” to add in an IP address, and click Next.
(This step assumes you are running this as a domain admin, as this will create a computer account in the domain for the virtual availability group listener. If you do not wish to run this as a domain admin, you must pre-stage that account and assign permissions. See SQL Always On documentation for this)
Next, you will choose FULL synchronization, and provide a network share where the servers have read and write access to.
This will run the tests:
Click “Finish” and you should have success!
Go into SQL Management studio and look over your configuration: