Applying SP2 or SP3 to a Rebuilt SQL 2005 Cluster Node   Leave a comment

Recently I ran into an issue with rebuilding the nodes of a two-node MSCS SQL 2005 64 bit cluster. We were rebuilding one node at a time in order to convert the machines to be boot-from-SAN. This is so that the system drives could participate in SAN-level replication taking place to an off-site DR location. The SQL instances were patched to SP3 plus a post-SP3 patch level.

These are running on Windows 2003 Ent. Ed. SP2. As an interesting side note, to enable Windows 2003 clustering to be able to manage the SAN disks as clustered or shared disks, you will need to add a registry entry, per the article, “How to add a registry value to a Windows Server 2003-based computer that you start from a SAN so that the startup disk, the pagefile disks, and the cluster disks are all on the same SAN fabric.”

Back to the topic at hand. The issue we ran into was that after rebuilding a node, and after installing the RTM version of SQL 2005 to the rebuilt node (let’s say Node “A” in this case), we could not get the SP3 installer to stop trying to apply the patching to the existing (already-patched) node (let’s say Node “B”). What would happen is that the installer would try to update the passive node (“B”) first, and would fail and quit the process every time, before updating the rebuilt node.

It turns out the best solution for this is to temporarily set the “Possible Owners” settings for each individual resource in your SQL cluster groups, using Cluster Administrator, to be, in our example, the “A” node, i.e., temporarily remove the other nodes (“B” in our example) as possible owners. Once these were set, we were able to successfully apply the SP3 update and post-SP3 updates needed, in order to bring the rebuilt node (“A”) to the same build level as the existing node.

I am not entirely sure why this was necessary, but it seems the installer program decides which nodes to run the patching against based on the “Possible Owners” settings for the SQL groups’ resources.

Afterwards when patching is complete, be sure to set the “Possible Owners” settings back to the way they were. After this you will have both machines properly patched to the same build level, as they should be. You would apply this same technique later when rebuilding the “B” Node.

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Posted December 12, 2010 by Norm Enger in Microsoft SQL Server

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