If you’ve heard about PowerPivot for Excel, you may have heard about the self-service business intelligence capabilities of the tool. I guess it’s about time to explore PowerPivot for Excel. Check out this article to get started. I think this is one of the best things that came out of the collaboration between the Excel product team as well as the Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services team.
I’ve setup a number of Windows Server 2008 (and higher) Failover Clusters in the past and this is the first time I’m seeing this. I’m running the Failover Cluster Validation wizard on two servers that will be used as nodes for a Windows Failover Cluster. When I run the wizard from ServerB, everything works fine. But when I try to run it on ServerA, I get blocked on the step to add servers to validate with the following error message.
I can’t find anything from the Windows Error Log to lead me to where to find that specific permission issue. I even ran ProcessMonitor to check for possible permission issues on the file system as well as the registry. When I generate the cluster log file, I get the error message below
System error 2 has occurred (0x00000002).
The system cannot find the file specified.
Note that I don’t even have a cluster yet, I’m just running the validation wizard before creating one. A number of results popped up from Google, one even recommending using a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory which I think is a very drastic approach to resolve this issue. I thought rebuilding the OS from scratch for both of the servers would fix it as they were both from a virtual machine image used for easier deployment. I’m a strong believer of making sure you have a clean Windows Failover Cluster configuration before going-live. However, the OS rebuild didn’t fix it.
Frustration has gotten into me with the fact that I can’t figure out what’s wrong so I opened up a case with Microsoft. After hours of investigation, the Microsoft engineer finally found the culprit. The reason why the Failover Cluster Validation Wizard was not even allowing me to add one of the servers in the cluster was because of the difference in the system date. ServerA had a system date of 21-Jun-2011 while ServerB had a system date of 22-Jun-2011 – off by exactly 24 hours. Both servers have the same system time and time zone configuration.
Log Name: System
Event ID: 1126
Logged: 6/21/2011 5:19:49 PM
Task Category: NONE
Windows was unable to determine whether new Group Policy settings defined by a network administrator should be enforced for this
user or computer because this computer’s clock is not synchronized with the clock of one of the domain controllers for the domain.
Because of this issue, this computer system may not be in compliance with the network administrator’s requirements, and users of
this system may not be able to use some functionality on the network. Windows will periodically attempt to retry this operation, and
it is possible that either this system or the domain controller will correct the time settings without intervention by an administrator,
so the problem will be corrected.
If this issue persists for more than an hour, checking the local system’s clock settings to ensure they are accurate and are synchronized
with the clocks on the network’s domain controllers is one way to resolve this problem. A network administrator may be required to
resolve the issue if correcting the local time settings does not address the problem.
After the system date was corrected on ServerB, the failover cluster validation wizard went thru smoothly. Curiosity has gotten into me that I’ve decided to reproduce this in my test environment. I have two Windows Server 2008 R2 servers and I configured one with a system date that is 24 hours ahead of the other. Running the Windows Failover Cluster Validation Wizard gave me a different error message this time.
This was actually the reason why I checked for the Remote Registry service on both nodes the first time I ran the Failover Cluster Validation Wizard. This MSDN article highlights all of the requirements you need before you install a SQL Server Failover Cluster (yes, this is for a SQL Server setup). But what’s fascinating is the fact that servers that are members of an Active Directory domain uses the PDC Emulator that runs the FSMO role server as their default NTP server. If the system time accidentally got changed by an administrator, a reboot will automatically correct the system time. This is exactly what happened when I rebooted the server that has an incorrect system time – the reboot automatically corrected the server system time.
I didn’t get the chance to dig deeper on why the system time on the servers I was working on got changed. Besides, I do not have access to their domain controllers to even look. But this is something to watch out for when deploying a Windows Failover Cluster. Who would ever think that an incorrect system time would be a showstopper in building a Windows Failover Cluster? I just wish there was a more intuitive error message that would tell me what the real problem was instead of banging my head and losing more hair trying to figure out which ACLs and permissions were not granted because of the “Access is Denied” error message.
After modifying the path, I now have this
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\DTS\Binn\DTExec.exe
- A presentation is a performance: Many will disagree with me on this, especially experts who believe that to demonstrate their expertise, they should be writing code and doing live demos during a presentation. Whenever I go up the stage to deliver a presentation, I always think about the attendee/audience. My goal is not to display my expertise nor to brag about what I can do that the audience could not. I always remember that my presentations are not about me, but about the audience. Which is why I do a lot of preparation prior to delivery – research, writing an appropriate storyline (you got it right – storyline), selecting the right demos, building test environments, writing demo scripts, rehearsing my presentation, etc. Yes, I rehearse my presentations and I say it out loud. I do the best that I can to make sure that the audience will be entertained, engaged, enlightened, educated and encouraged. If I’m doing a presentation on disaster recovery, I even plan out what type of disaster will I be simulating. Doing this will help me make sure that I don’t go beyond the time limit that was allotted for my session while covering all of the items that I intend to. I’d be very happy if the audience will walk out of my presentation with something that they will do when they get back to their regular routine. I keep in mind what Dr. Nick Morgan, one of America’s top communication theorist and coach, always say:”The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” So, if you’ll be attending a presentation I’m delivering in the future, I’ll assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
- Presentation time is limited: I hear presenters and speakers apologize for not covering the full content of their presentation. In some cases, you would see them breeze thru their slides as they get to the summary slide. If the presentation was rehearsed and scripted, they would know how long it will take to cover everything in their slide and add or remove as necessary. Copying and pasting code is my way of saying, “I value your time so much that I would rather copy and paste code so that I can move on to more important stuff than let you suffer from every typographical error I would make while typing.” As I said, many won’t agree with me on this but I need to focus on the more important content of the presentation.
- Focus on the important: Same as the previous point. Enough said.
And, so I was selected. When I opened up my mail client earlier today, there it was- the email from the PASS Program Committee about the session selection results. I’ve submitted four (4) sessions for this year’s summit. In the past, I’ve tried to avoid doing technical presentations and focus more on doing soft skills presentations because I believe that technology professionals should be looking at professional development beyond their technical skills. I’ve done presentations in the past about the effects of emotional intelligence in IT, developing and preparing engaging presentations and success factors. However, probably because of the articles I write for MSSQLTips.com, I’ve created a perception in the SQL Server community that I am an HA/DR and a clustering expert (I still consider myself as a newbie as I’m still learning a lot of great stuff every day about SQL Server high availability and disaster recovery.) I’ve had my fair share of disaster recovery stuff working as a datacenter engineer in my previous lifetime building infrastructures and implementing DR plans so HA/DR is something I’m really passionate about. This year, I did submit a session on Reporting Services Scale-Out Implementation (which is another high availability option), Oracle for the SQL Server DBA, Disaster Recovery and creating engaging presentations (I still want to make sure I do a non-technical presentation at PASS). My session abstract for the disaster recovery talk was selected among all four, probably because a similar presentation ended up on the top 3 sessions for SQL Rally 2011. So, for this year, I’m speaking at the PASS Community Summit 2011 about the non-technology aspects of disaster recovery.
Title: Disaster Recovery Is Not Just About Technology
Abstract: Failover Clustering, Database Mirroring, Backup Strategies, etc. These are just some of the terms that you hear when tasked to work on a disaster recovery project. However, you’re missing a lot on the non-technology aspects. This session will describe the principles that should drive disaster recovery strategies and how they need to become the foundation of the technology solutions that you need to implement. You will certainly look at your disaster recovery strategies differently after learning these concepts.
This presentation was inspired by my blog series about the non-technical aspects of disaster recovery. I will be adding a few more posts to the blog series. If you’re thinking of attending the PASS Community Summit 2011, let me know. I might buy you a cup of coffee if you attend my session.