I have been at a client all week implementing a SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition SP3 cluster using Windows Server 2008 R2 for the underlying operating system. Since this is W2K8 R2, it’s 64-bit only, so we implemented SQL Server 2005 x64. Everything went pretty smoothly, as did the cutover from their current production box. However, we did notice one weird issue: we couldn’t configure a Maintenance Plan (I’m not a huge fan – I’m more of a create it on your own kind of guy). As it turns out, I found the following blog post from a Microsoft support engineer. We had named the nodes ending in lowecase letters. The problem was that by the time we figured this out, we were already live in production, and there is no way we could take another outage, and run through the whole process of evicting and renaming nodes.

The blog only mentions Maintenance Plans and Database Mail. What it doesn’t mention is that it also does not create the System/Performance Monitor counters for use, and you have replication issues if you are using a Publisher and Distributor on the same instance (although replication works, you get errors and it is just odd). If you configure replication to go against a remote Distributor, everything is just fine. We did a bunch of testing against another cluster we configured (same hardware configuration) for their soon-to-be reporting server and had none of the problems we had on the original cluster we configured as production.

The unfortunate thing is that the customer is now in production and they can’t afford another outage to go and evict things and reconfigure the servers in use. Everything else is working and stable. They may consider migrating to the other cluster in another outage, but not anytime soon.

Moral of this sad tale of woe: never use lowercase letters for Windows Server 2008 (RTM or R2) node names with a SQL Server 2005 clustered implementation. It affects more than just Database Mail and Maintenance Plans.

If this isn’t a reason to use SQL Server 2008, I don’t know what is! 🙂