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 Solutions Supported by Progent's Consultants
Progent's certified consultants can help you to create a cost-effective, zero-downtime network that addresses major challenges encompassing a broad range of networking technologies and processes including:

Disaster Recovery Planning
Progent's business continuity consultants can help you design a disaster recovery strategy so you can resume IT functionality in the event of an information network catastrophe. Progent can help you to develop a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy that includes scheduled disaster recovery evaluations and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized engineers can also show you how to build an affordable, high-availability network architecture that takes into account reliability issues covering a wide array of network technologies and processes. To find out more, visit Workplace Recovery Consulting and Support Services.

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and mid-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. Available at a low monthly rate, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup processes and enables fast restoration of vital data, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to component breakdowns, software bugs, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR specialists can provide world-class support to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can help you to restore your critical data. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup and Recovery.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery experts can assist you to design a DR system built around Microsoft's most advanced Failover Clustering tools including Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class network-attached storage using low-cost hardware, VM Load Balancing for enhancing the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while reducing capital investment and operational expenses, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical deployment of a stretch cluster quorum arbitration point. To read more, go to Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Support.

Windows Server 2012 Failover Clusters
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced enterprise-class fault tolerance and system recovery to Microsoft's failover clustering solution. Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and provides significant improvements offering more extensibility, better storage uptime for server applications, streamlined management, faster automatic failover, and additional flexibility for architecting clusters. For details, visit Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Migration and Support.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is a component of VMware vCenter that allows you to specify, automate and test a repeatable process for restoring applications and services rapidly after an outage. Site Recovery Manager provides centrally managed and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, plus non-intrusive site relocation, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also supports transparent testing for site recovery, upgrades and patches and can produce audit reports to confirm complete service restoration, validate SLAs and demonstrate DR compliance. Progent can provide the support of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist your organization to plan, deploy, test and administer a DR solution powered by VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that combines array-based storage clustering with continual replication to deliver fast, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between sites that are as far as 300km apart from each other. Progent can provide online or on-premises access to a certified NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help you to plan, configure, administer, update, test and repair a disaster recovery solution built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to choose an architecture for your MetroCluster environment that meets your functional needs and budget. Progent can ensure you follow leading practices for configuring your MetroCluster solution by providing guidance with tasks like assigning disk pools and shelf IDs, determining plexes layout, provisioning volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, provisioning Cisco and Brocade switches, designing a tiebreaker mechanism, designing a TCP/IP configuration replication network between your peered clusters, and testing your MetroCluster disaster recovery system to prove compliance with industry standards and government mandates.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting covering network load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content delivery products such as Cisco Content Engine. Fault tolerant load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Engine and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To find out more, visit Non-stop Load Balancing.

Non-stop Internet Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can help you find fault-tolerant data centers that meet the particular needs of your business. Fault tolerant Internet Data Centers are particularly appealing to small and mid-size organizations due to of their low cost and convenience compared to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Trying to design an on-site data center that offers even a minimum level of fault tolerance is too costly for the majority of small companies. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the advantages of non-stop data centers by offering a complete array of engineering and support services. For more information, visit Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers Consulting.

Non-stop Branch Office Connectivity
Progentís interoffice connection consultants can help companies create fault tolerant inter-site connections via redundant system architectures with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can plan and deploy ultra-reliable Inter-office connections based on non-stop EIGRP routers or non-stop OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connections and automatic fail-over can provide economical non-stop interoffice connectivity. For more information, visit High-Availability Inter-office Connectivity.

24x7 Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-authorized network consultants can help you create an economical, fault tolerant Internet configuration architecture that can achieve 24x7 Internet access through a broad range of high availability Internet access technologies including non-stop BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant Internet Service Providers. Progent offers CCIE professionals to show you how to utilize the most advanced technology for 24x7 Internet access to implement an economical, completely redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver zero-downtime Internet connections. For more information, go to Non-stop Internet Connectivity Solutions.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consultants
Progent can provide affordable remote access to engineers skilled in a broad array of products and technologies that provide solutions for protecting Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and desktops as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent can provide expertise for leading data protection platforms such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take Backup, MozyPro, Retrospect, Apple Time Machine, VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP), and Solaris FLARs. Progent can assist you to implement, enhance, or maintain backup/restore solutions for a variety of topologies including on-premises, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or a mix. For more information, visit Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting Services.

System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Restore Consulting and Support Services
Progent's certified Microsoft SCDPM support professionals can help your company to create an effective business continuity plan, design a cost-effective high-availability network infrastructure, configure a System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and recovery solution, comprehensively validate your system, train your IT staff or local consultants how to manage System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide extensive IT outsourcing including remote housing of Microsoft SCDPM machines in Progent's data center facility. To read more, see Microsoft SCDPM Consulting and Support Services.

Barracuda Backup Multi-site and Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is an affordable, subscription backup/restore platform for small and mid-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup deployment can include a custom-designed physical appliance built by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with comparable functionality but which uses your existing storage hardware. Barracuda Backup protects vital company data generated locally, at one or more remote sites, or in the cloud. For disaster preparedness, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon Web Services (AWS), or to any location with a Barracuda appliance. Progent is a certified Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts offer a broad array of consulting services to help you to design, configure, manage and troubleshoot a BDR system based on Barracuda Backup. For details, go to Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consultants.

Altaro VM Backup Software for Backup and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup offers small organizations a dependable and affordable solution for backing up and recovering Hyper-V and VMware-powered VMs. Altaro VM Backup can be used for on-premises, remote, multi-site, and cloud environments and also enables cost-effective cloud backup to Microsoft Azure storage. Headline features include state-of-the-art inline deduplication to reduce backup storage requirements, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) with backup spacing as short as five minutes for reducing your exposure to data loss, advanced encryption, item-level recovery options for specific files and emails, extensive support for Windows Server Cluster Shared Volumes and VMware vCenter for managing larger environments, and support for Microsoft VSS technology to back up online VMs without downtime. Progent is an Altaro partner and can provide a broad range of consulting services to assist you to plan, deploy, optimize and troubleshoot a backup/restore solution powered by Altaro VM Backup software. For more information, visit Altaro VM Backup Consulting Services.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take Software offers a selection of tools designed to deliver small companies a variety of cost-effective alternatives for backing up and restoring vital applications such as Exchange, SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning consultants have extensive backgrounds integrating Double-Take technology into small business IT networks to create a high level of availability and disaster recovery capability at a budget-friendly price. To find out more, go to Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup.

CRISC-qualified IT Risk Control
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was initiated by ISACA to verify a consultant's ability to plan, deploy, and maintain information system controls to reduce risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to help your company to develop and carry out a workplace continuity strategy that follows leading practices promoted by CRISC and crafted to match your organization's risk appetite, business objectives, and IT budget. To read more, see CRISC-qualified IT risk control experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Partner and offers high-level application support for a broad variety of small business applications, Progent is able to assist clients to arrive at complete IT solutions that maximize the productivity of your IT network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the services of certified engineers and specialists with expertise in architecting, installing and managing infrastructure solutions built on Cisco products. The extent of Progent's IT experience and Progent's appreciation for the requirements of small companies make Progent the perfect partner for building and running a cost-effective, dependable network.

How You Can Contact Progent's Engineers for Non-stop Network Services
In order to get in touch with Progent about professional expertise for high availability infrastructure, phone 1-800-993-9400 or refer to Contact Progent.
















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