Last week MS's PFE Moti Bani and me solved a problem that bugged me for ~ a year - since the day we've started deploying 2008 clusters in our production environment:
2008+ Clusters can't update their CNO and VCO accounts' passwords.
The error, as shown in the cluster administrator, was:

Cluster network name resource 'Cluster Name' cannot be brought online.
The computer object associated with the resource could not be updated in domain '' for the following reason:
Unable to update password for computer account.

The text for the associated error code is: Access is denied.


The cluster identity '' may lack permissions required to update the object. Please work with your domain administrator to ensure that the cluster identity can update computer objects in the domain.

And in the cluster logs:

????????.????????::2010/??/??-??:??:??.??? ERR   [RES] Network Name : Unable to update password for computer account on DC \\., status 5."*  

Although this issue isn't critical, it was annoying to see it piling up in the CluAdmin.msc and the opsMgr console, and it was quite disturbing to know that somewhere, computer accounts are sitting there with year+ passwords, decreasing my domain's overall security.
Last month we've decided this problem is worth some PFE hours, and started troubleshooting it.
Among the actions we've tried were:

  • Adding permissions to the cluster/node accounts on the CNO, eventually trying everyone: full control (only for 5 minutes, I swear!)
  • Enabling auditing on the AD and the cluster nodes, trying to study that annoying "access denied". Nothing showed up on our logs
  • Activating ADSI auditing and event tracing

Eventually, Moti noticed that some of the ACLs on some of my AD containers were messed up:
The authenticated users: read,read permissions, read all properties ACEs on the domain root, cn=builtin, cn=computers and cn=users were blanked out (not missing, mind you). Within 5 minutes from fixing those ACEs (and replicating), all of the cluster accounts in my production env changed their password!
Our latest theory is that the cluster tried to LDP bind to the AD to check if the account is locked before attempting to change the password through ADSI. The LDP bind destination was one of those containers, and because the LDP bind failed (no read permission or whatever) the cluster gave up on changing the password altogether... What a day.