Q. Can I use Sysprep to prepare an OS image of a Windows Server 2008 box that has the Failover Cluster feature enabled?

A. No. When the Failover Clustering feature is enabled, a MAC from the machine is used for the fault tolerant (NetFT) network. If you used Sysprep to create an image of a machine after the Failover Cluster feature is enabled, all nodes created from this image would have the same MAC for the NetFT virtual adapter. This would break communications, and cluster validation would fail when this duplicate MAC for NetFT was detected—clustering won't work.

The solution is to use Sysprep before you enable the Failover Cluster feature, and enable the Failover Cluster feature after cloning through an unattended script.

As a best practice, you should have a minimal number of OS images and then customize them using unattended scripts and processes such as System Center Configuration Manager's task sequences. This is another reason you should have a Windows Server image and then automate the node joining a cluster through scripting, rather than having a specific "cluster node" image.

Related Reading:

Check out hundreds more useful Q&As like this in John Savill's FAQ for Windows. Also, watch instructional videos made by John at ITTV.net.
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