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Replication Subscribers and AlwaysOn Availability Groups (SQL Server)

When an AlwaysOn availability group containing a database that is a replication subscriber fails over, the replication subscription might fail. For transactional subscribers, the distribution agent will continue to replicate automatically if the subscription is using the name of the availability group listener of the subscriber. For merge subscribers, a replication administrator must manually reconfigure the subscriber, by recreating the subscription.

SQL Server replication supports the automatic failover of the publisher, the automatic failover of transactional subscribers, and the manual failover of merge subscribers. The failover of a distributor on an availability database is not supported.

Failover of a Merge Pull Subscription

A pull subscription fails upon availability group failover, because pull agent cannot find the jobs stored in the msdb database of the server instance that hosts the primary replica; which is not available because the server instance has failed.

Failover of a Merge Push Subscription

A push subscription fails upon availability group failover, because the push agent can no longer connect to original subscription database on original subscriber.

For transactional replication, use the following steps to configure and failover a subscriber availability group:

  1. Before creating the subscription, add the subscriber database to the appropriate AlwaysOn availability group.

  2. Add the subscriber's availability group Listener as a linked server to all nodes of the availability group. This step ensures that all potential failover partners are aware of and can connect to the listener.

  3. Using the script in the Creating a Transactional Replication Push Subscription section below, create the subscription using the name of the availability group listener of the subscriber. After a failover, the listener name will always remain valid, whereas the actual server name of the subscriber will depend on the actual node that became the new primary.

    Note Note

    The subscription must be created by using a Transact-SQL script and cannot be created using Management Studio.

  4. If creating a pull subscription:

    1. In Management Studio, on the primary subscriber node, open the SQL Server Agent tree.

    2. Identify the Pull Distribution Agent job and edit the job.

    3. On the Run Agent job step, check the -Publisher and -Distributor parameters. Make sure that these parameters contain the correct direct server and instance names of the publisher and distributor server.

    4. Change the -Subscriber parameter to the subscriber's availability group listener name.

When you create your subscription following these steps, then you won’t have to do anything after a failover.

-- commands to execute at the publisher, in the publisher database:
use [<publisher database name>]
EXEC sp_addsubscription @publication = N'<publication name>', 
       @subscriber = N'<availability group listener name>', 
       @destination_db = N'<subscriber database name>', 
       @subscription_type = N'Push', 
       @sync_type = N'automatic', @article = N'all', @update_mode = N'read only', @subscriber_type = 0;
GO

EXEC sp_addpushsubscription_agent @publication = N'<publication name>', 
       @subscriber = N'<availability group listener name>', 
       @subscriber_db = N'<subscriber database name>', 
       @job_login = null, @job_password = null, @subscriber_security_mode = 1;
GO

For merge replication, a replication administrator must manually reconfigure the subscriber with the following steps:

  1. Execute sp_subscription_cleanup to remove the old subscription for the subscriber. Perform this action on the new primary replica (which was formerly the secondary replica).

  2. Recreate the subscription by creating a new subscription, beginning with a new snapshot.

Note Note

The current process is inconvenient for merge replication subscribers, however the main scenario for merge replication is disconnected users (desktops, laptops, handset devices) which will not use AlwaysOn availability groups on the subscriber.

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