Windows Server 2008 Fault Tolerant Clustering ConsultingClustering is a key technique to achieve maximum fault tolerance. A cluster is a collection of computer systems responsible for running a shared set of applications and services. The systems in the cluster are interconnected through hardware and software in such a way that in case any component in the cluster stops functioning, the workload will "failover" to, or be assumed by, another system in the cluster without a disruption of service.

Failover clustering clearly has an advantage in increasing network availability in the case of a hardware breakdown, but it also allows non-disruptive system maintenance for environments that have no time window when key applications such as email or web commerce can be taken offline without hurting business. For geographically dispersed environments, multi-site clustering provides insurance against natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes.

The Enterprise and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2008 included significant improvements in failover clustering such as easier deployment, management, and migration; enhanced support for multi-site clusters; improved security architecture and quorum models; stronger authentication and encryption; and more efficient tools for backup and recovery. Windows Server 2008 R2 offers even more advanced support for clustering through the addition of features that make clusters more secure, more available, and easier to manage. Major clustering improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 include Live Migration support through Cluster Shared Volumes, enhanced support for IPsec security, and expanded cluster storage.

Progent offers a full range of Windows Server 2008 Server consulting services and Windows Server 2008 R2 expertise and can assist businesses of any size to maintain and troubleshoot failover clusters powered by Windows Server 2008. If you are considering an upgrade to Windows Server 2016, Progent can provide Windows Server 2016 failover clustering consulting to maximize the availability and performance of your system.

New and Improved Features of Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering
The failover clustering capabilities incorporated into Microsoft Windows 2008 Server represents more than a decade of Microsoft's experience in developing clustering technology. The Enterprise and Datacenter Editions of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 offer a number of new clustering services and capabilities including:

More Convenient Management Interfaces
Windows Server 2008 includes Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0, a new easy-to-use interface for controlling network resources. The new Failover Cluster Administration Console is task oriented rather than cluster resource oriented. To make a file share highly available, for example, the administrator no longer has to create a group, a disk resource, an IP address resource, Network Name, configure IsAlive/LookAlive, configure preferred services, and set dependencies. Instead, the wizard simply asks for the Network Name. You do not necessarily need to assign an IP address because Windows Server 2008 failover clustering now supports DHCP.

Windows Server 2008 also supports remote management via the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT). You can manage multiple clusters throughout the organization from a single MMC. Windows Server 2008 Failover Clusters are also fully scriptable with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).

Built-in Cluster Validate Tool
Windows Server 2008 clustering includes a cluster Validate Tool, an expanded and integrated version of the ClusPrep tool released for Windows Server 2003 server clustering. As a part of the cluster configuration process, Validate runs a set of tests to determine whether the selected servers, cluster networks, and storage meet the requirements for failover clustering. Validate performs an inventory that includes BIOS information, operating systems, adapters, drivers and software updates; verifies cluster topology for redundancy; checks IP configuration details; and makes sure that storage can correctly handle simulated cluster actions. The Validate Tool helps prevents configuration errors, which is one of the most common problems encountered in failover clusters.

Support for Windows Server 2008 Server Core
Windows Server 2008 offers a Server Core installation option that supports failover clustering and provides a bare-bones environment for running distinct server roles. By limiting the services that need to be maintained and updated, this minimalist installation reduces support and management expense and enhances security by shrinking the server's attack surface. Server Core supports a variety of important roles including DHCP server, file services, print services, DNS server, Active Directory Domain Services, streaming media services, and Windows Server 2008 virtualization.

Better Storage and Backup Support
Improvements in storage and backup offer increased stability and availability for failover clusters. Support for both Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks allows the creation of disks greater than 2 terabytes. Built-in logic initiates self healing automatically as long as the system can find either the disk signature in the Master Boot Record or the SCSI inquiry page 0x83 data (VPD).

Support for Storage Area Networking (SAN) solutions is improved for storage hardware that supports SCSI-3 SPC3Ėcompliant SCSI commands for persistent reservation/release. All multi-path solutions are Microsoft Multipath I/O (MPIO). The Device Specific Module (DSM) provided by the storage vendor is responsible for sending PR registration information down each path to the storage system. Closer integration with Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) makes the backup process easier. Failover clustering in Windows Server 2008 has its own VSS.

Greater Expandability
With Windows Server 2008, x64-based failover clusters support up to 16 nodes in a single cluster, as opposed to the maximum of 8 nodes in Windows Server 2003. Windows Server 2008 failover clusters also now support GPT disks, which use the GUID partition table (GPT) disk partitioning system. A GPT disk allows up to 128 primary partitions and a much larger volume size. In comparison, MBR disks can support up to four primary partitions and a volume size limit of up to 2 terabytes. For greater reliability, GPT disks offer replication and cyclical redundancy check (CRC) protection of the partition table. The increased number of nodes plus support for GPT disks dramatically extends the scalability of larger volumes in cluster environments.

A New Quorum Model
Windows Server 2008 introduces a new failover clustering quorum model that incorporates a combination of Microsoft's earlier shared disk and majority node set models. In Windows Server 2008 failover clustering there are now four ways to establish a quorum:

  • No Majority Ė Disk Only (same as Windows Server 2003 shared disk quorum)
  • Node Majority (same as the Windows Server 2003 majority node set)
  • Node and Disk Majority
  • Node and File Share Majority
The quorum mechanism in Windows Server 2008 no longer requires a shared storage resource for the cluster to function. Quorum now refers to a number of votes which must equate to a majority of nodes. All nodes and disk resources have a vote. This avoids failure points in the old model, which required the disk to be available at all times so that disk failure meant cluster failure.

An Improved Security Model
Windows Server 2008 failover clustering incorporates a new security model that enhances its security and dependability. Changes include:

  • Elimination of the need for a domain user account for the Cluster Service Account (CSA)
  • Better logging and event tracing
  • Transition from unsecure datagram remote procedure call (RPC) communications to TCP-based RPC communications
  • Default enabling Kerberos authentication on all cluster network name resources
  • The ability to audit access to the cluster service via either the Failover Cluster Management snap-in or the cluster command-line interface
  • Ability to secure Inter-Cluster communications.

New Networking Capabilities and More Flexible Dependencies
Windows Server 2008 failover clustering includes a new networking model. Major improvements include:

  • Enhanced support for geographically distributed networks
  • The ability to place cluster nodes on different networks
  • The ability to use DHCP server to assign IP addresses to cluster interfaces
  • Improvements in the cluster heartbeat mechanism
  • Support for IPv6
Administrators no longer have to stretch virtual local area networks across the wide area network to support geographically dispersed servers on different subnets. Failover cluster nodes can now be located on different subnets. Individual cluster nodes can be placed on separate, routed networks, which allows IP Address and Network Name resources to come online when services and applications fail over to remote nodes.

Cluster IP address resources can now get their addressing from DHCP servers as well as from static entries. The cluster heartbeat mechanism has moved from a UDP broadcast health checking mechanism to a UDP unicast communication that it uses a Ping-like Request-Reply process. This allows better security and more reliable packet sequence numbering. Windows Server 2008 supports IPv6 IP Address resources and IPv4 IP Address resources either alone or in combination in a cluster. Clustering also supports 6-4 and Intra-site Automatic Tunneling Addressing Protocol (ISATAP).

Enhancements to Failover Clustering In Windows Server 2008 R2
Major enhancements to Failover Clustering available with Windows Server 2008 R2 include:

  • Clustered Shared Volumes (CSV) with dynamic I/O redirection
  • Geographically dispersed clustering for immunity from natural disasters
  • Easier setup and migration through the new Best Practices Analyzer
  • Redundant Quorum Resource to eliminate single-point failure for the cluster quorum
  • Improved security through support for IPsec security between client and cluster nodes
  • Supports for GPT disks that exceed 2 terabytes in capacity
For more details about the improved Failover Clustering support provided by Windows Server 2008 R2, visit Progent's Consulting Services for Windows Server 2008 R2.

How Progent Can Help You Benefit from Microsoft's Failover Clustering
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you evaluate the business benefits of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 failover clustering, set up pilot programs to validate performance and compatibility for your key workloads, develop and execute a cost-effective deployment plan, train your IT staff to manage your clustering environment, and provide ongoing consulting and technical support services remotely or at your site. Progent can also provide comprehensive Help Desk services.

Progent's service professionals can also help you migrate from Windows Server 2003 cluster nodes. This migration requires experience because these two types of nodes cannot share the same cluster, which eliminates a rolling migration.

If you currently have a clustering environment based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and are considering a move to Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016, Progent can help you plan and carry out a Windows Server 2012 R2 failover clustering upgrade or create a Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery solution.

Progent's CISM, CISA, GIAC, CISSP, and CRISC certified security engineers can assess the protection offered by your cluster environment and can recommend and implement affordable improvements. Progent's security experts can also help you design, document, and test business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

Additional Fault Tolerant Technologies Provided by Progent's Consultants
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consultants can assist your company to create an efficient, high-availability IT architecture that resolves critical issues encompassing a wide range of networking technologies and operations including:

Business Continuity Planning
Progent's disaster recovery professionals can help you create a disaster recovery plan that will allow you to restore IT operations in the event of an IT system catastrophe. Progent can assist you to develop a complete disaster recovery plan that includes periodic disaster recovery assessments and drills. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized engineers can also show you how to create an affordable, fault-tolerant network solution that addresses availability issues involving a broad array of network technologies and processes. To read more, see Disaster Recovery Consulting Services.

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent offer small and medium-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a fixed monthly cost, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup activities and enables fast recovery of critical data, applications and VMs that have become lost or corrupted as a result of hardware failures, software glitches, disasters, human error, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware images. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's cloud backup consultants can deliver advanced support to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards such as HIPPA, FINRA, and PCI and, whenever needed, can assist you to recover your business-critical information. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup and Recovery.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity consultants can help you to design a DR solution built around Microsoft's cloud-tested Failover Clustering tools including Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance storage clusters using industry-standard hardware, VM Load Balancing for improving the performance and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while reducing capital investment and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical creation of a failover cluster quorum arbitration point. To read more, go to Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Expertise.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced world-class fault tolerance and system recovery to Microsoft's clustering platform. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and provides significant improvements offering increased scalability, better disk storage uptime for server applications, simpler administration, faster automatic failover, and additional options for architecting clusters. To learn more, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Consulting and Support.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is a component of VMware vCenter that lets you specify, automate and test a repeatable runbook for recovering services rapidly following a breakdown. Site Recovery Manager provides centrally managed and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, and non-intrusive site migration, failback and site re-protect. SRM also allows non-intrusive testing for site recovery, upgrades and patches and can produce reports to verify complete service restoration, validate SLAs and prove disaster recovery compliance. Progent can provide the support of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist you to plan, configure, test and maintain a disaster recovery solution powered by VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a high-availability and disaster recovery platform that combines array-based storage clustering with continual replication to deliver rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery between sites that are up to 300km apart from each other. Progent can provide access to a NetApp MetroCluster expert who can assist you to plan, deploy, manage, upgrade, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery solution built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to select an architecture for your MetroCluster deployment that aligns with your technical requirements and budget. Progent can ensure you follow leading practices for installing your MetroCluster solution by delivering help with procedures such as assigning shelf IDs, arranging aggregate layout, setting up volumes, setting up NetApp Snapshot, installing switches, implementing a tiebreaker, setting up a TCP/IP configuration replication network, and verifying your DR system to prove adherence with information assurance standards and regulatory requirements.

High Availability Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing support that addresses system load balancing, load balanced programs, network infrastructure routing, and content delivery products including F5 Networks 3DNS. Non-stop load balancing products for which Progent can provide consulting services include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco CSS, Cisco Distributed Director and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. For more information, visit High Availability Load Balancing.

Zero Downtime Colocation
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you find high availability data centers that meet the specific needs of your company. Fault tolerant collocation sites are especially attractive to small and mid-size organizations because of their low cost and convenience compared to taking a do-it-yourself strategy. Attempting to design an in-house data center that offers even a basic level of fault tolerance is too expensive for most small businesses. Progent can show you how to get all the benefits of non-stop colo sites by providing a complete range of engineering and maintenance services. For more information, visit High-Availability Data Centers Expertise.

24x7 Branch Office Connectivity
Progentís interoffice network infrastructure consultants can help businesses achieve non-stop inter-site connectivity through fully redundant system architectures featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can plan and implement fault-tolerant Inter-office connections based on fault tolerant EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how redundant connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide affordable non-stop interoffice networking. To find out more, go to Fault Tolerant Inter-office Connectivity.

Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-certified network engineers can show you how to build an affordable, fault tolerant Internet configuration architecture that can deliver non-stop Internet connectivity via a wide range of high availability Internet network solutions including high availability BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant Internet Service Providers. Progent offers Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to show you how to utilize the most up-to-date technology for 24x7 Internet connectivity to create a cost-effective, fully redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other capabilities to create zero-downtime Internet availability. For details, visit High Availability Internet Access Solutions.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting and Support Services
Progent can provide economical remote support from engineers skilled in a wide range of utilities and technologies that deliver solutions for backing up Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations plus notebooks and smartphones. Progent can provide expertise for leading backup platforms such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take Backup, Mozy, Retrospect, Apple Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and Oracle Solaris FLARs. Progent can assist your company to install, upgrade, or troubleshoot backup/restore solutions for a variety of topologies such as local, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or hybrid. To learn more, see Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting Services.

System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Recovery Consulting Experts
Progent's expert System Center Data Protection Manager support professionals can help you to create an effective disaster recovery plan, design an affordable high-availability IT architecture, install a SCDPM-based recovery solution, comprehensively validate your DPM system, educate your IT staff or regular service providers how to maintain Microsoft SCDPM, or provide extensive IT outsourcing services including remote hosting of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager machines in Progent's data center. To learn more, visit System Center Data Protection Manager Expertise.

Barracuda Backup Multi-site and Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is an affordable, subscription backup and disaster recovery platform for small and mid-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup deployment can incorporate a purpose-built physical storage device built by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with similar functionality but which utilizes your own storage hardware. Barracuda Backup safeguards vital company data generated on-premises, at one or multiple remote sites, or in the cloud. For disaster protection, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon Web Services (AWS), or to any location with a Barracuda Backup appliance. Progent is a certified Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consultants can provide a wide array of consulting support services to help you to plan, configure, manage and repair a BDR solution built on Barracuda Backup. For more information, go to Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consulting.

Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Backup and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup offers small businesses a reliable and budget-friendly solution for backing up and recovering Hyper-V and VMware-based virtual machines (VMs). Altaro VM Backup can be deployed in on-premises, remote, multi-site, and cloud-hosted environments and also supports low-cost backup to Azure storage. Headline capabilities include industry-leading inline deduplication to cut backup storage requirements, Continuous Data Protection with backup spacing as low as five minutes for minimizing your exposure to data loss, advanced encryption, item-level recovery capability for individual files and emails, extensive support for Windows Server Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) and vCenter for managing larger deployments, and support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up live virtual machines with zero downtime. Progent is an Altaro partner and can provide a broad range of consulting services to help you to plan, deploy, optimize and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution based on Altaro VM Backup software. To find out more, go to Altaro VM Backup Consulting.

Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup
Double-Take publishes a selection of products intended to provide small and midsize businesses a range of affordable alternatives for replicating and restoring vital workloads including Exchange, SQL, Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning consultants have in-depth experience integrating Double-Take Software technology into small business information networks to achieve a high level of availability and business continuity capability at an affordable cost. To find out more, visit Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup.

CRISC-certified IT Risk Control
The CRISC program was established by ISACA to verify an IT professional's skills to design, deploy, and maintain IS controls to reduce risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified consultant to assist your company to develop and carry out a business continuity or disaster recovery strategy based on industry best practices identified by CRISC and crafted to align with your organization's risk appetite, business goals, and IT budget. For more information, visit CRISC-certified IT risk control specialists.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Partner and provides professional application consulting for a wide range of business software programs, Progent is able to help clients to arrive at comprehensive information technology solutions that maximize the productivity of your IT network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the support of certified consultants and specialists with experience in designing, configuring and troubleshooting infrastructure solutions built on Cisco products. The breadth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small companies make Progent the ideal resource for creating and running an affordable, dependable network.

How to Get Help from Progent's Engineers for Non-stop System Services
To contact Progent about engineering help for high availability LAN design, phone 1-800-993-9400 or refer to Contact Progent.
















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