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Is it possible to join a Windows Server 2016 computer to an existing Windows Server 2022 2-node Failover cluster? The cluster is domain-independent.

Hypothetical setup:

  1. Node 1 (windows server 2022 + Sql Server 2022)
  2. Node 2 (windows server 2022 + Sql Server 2022) Nodes 1 and 2 will be in a failover cluster
  3. Node 3 (windows server 2016 + Sql Server 2016)

My goal is to join the Windows Server 2016 computer running SQL Server 2016 to a Windows Server 2022 Failover cluster running SQL Server 2022. This will be an Always On Availability Group setup.

Once Node 1 and 2 are synchronized with Node 3, I plan to failover to Node 1 and remove node 3 from the cluster.

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  • I would suggest the another way. Create the AG on 2022 and a mirror of the database to this AG or use a log shipping, then you cut the connection and change application configuration (which ha to be done anyway) This way you do not have any issues with different Windows versions in a cluster. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 15:05
  • Is that intended to migrate your data from SQL Server 2016 to a brand new SQL Server 2022 with no/little downtime? Plese, see if Is possible to Use Replication between 2 different SQL Versions? is of any help.
    – Ronaldo
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:38
  • I looked into the suggested link but SQL Server 2016 and 2022 and too far apart to support a publisher-subscriber topology. Regarding the db mirroring approach, I have no experience with that technology. I considered the log shipping approach, but that will require a bit more downtime for the tail-end of the log to be taken and restored. Still, it's probably the safest option since the different Windows versions in a cluster may not work.
    – Marcus
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 9:22

2 Answers 2

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Is it possible to join a Windows Server 2016 computer to an existing Windows Server 2022 2-node Failover cluster?

No, it is not. The cluster is already at a higher functional level and lower level nodes cannot be added.

Attempts to add a node will result in a incompatible OS check when adding the node.

The node failed to join the cluster because the joining node and other nodes in the cluster have incompatible operating system versions.

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  • Thank you, this answers my question.
    – Marcus
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 9:32
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I'm not sure about adding a new node with older Windows version to the cluster, but the state of having a cluster with different versions is possible, according to the Cluster operating system rolling upgrade doc:

In order to keep the cluster workloads running during the Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade process, moving a cluster workload from a node running an older version of Windows Server to a node running a newer version of Windows Server works by using a compatibility mode. This compatibility mode makes the nodes running the newer version of Windows Server appear as if they are running the the same older version of Windows Server. For example, when upgrading a Windows Server 2016 cluster to Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2019 nodes operate in a Windows Server 2016 compatibility mode as a temporary measure. A new conceptual cluster mode, called mixed-OS mode, allows nodes of different versions to exist in the same cluster (see Figure 1).

Cluster with different Windows versions

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