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 include 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 design, implement, and maintain cost-effective failover clusters that provide high availability, security, and performance and that add significantly to the business value of your information network.

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 High Availability Solutions Supported by Progent's Consultants
Progent's certified support professionals can assist your company to build an affordable, non-stop system that addresses critical issues encompassing a broad range of networking solutions and operations such as:

Business Continuity Planning
Progent's business continuity planning consultants can show you how to create a workplace recovery strategy so you can restore network operations in the event of an information system catastrophe. Progent can assist you to develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that incorporates scheduled disaster recovery evaluations and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized engineers can also help you build an affordable, zero-downtime system architecture that takes into account availability issues involving a broad array of infrastructure technologies and procedures. For more information, see Workplace Recovery Expertise.

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and medium-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a fixed monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and allows fast recovery of critical data, applications and VMs that have become lost or corrupted due to hardware failures, software glitches, natural disasters, human error, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR specialists can deliver world-class support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can assist you to recover your business-critical data. Learn more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Backup.

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity consultants can help your organization to plan and deploy a DR solution based on Microsoft's most advanced Failover Clustering tools such as Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class network-attached storage using commodity hardware, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for enhancing the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while reducing TCO and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for easy, affordable creation of a stretch cluster quorum witness. To read more, see Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Consulting.

Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 brought enterprise-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's failover clustering platform. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this foundation and provides significant new and enhanced features that offer more expandability, non-stop storage uptime for server applications, easier administration, quicker automatic failover, and additional flexibility for architecting clusters. To learn more, go to Windows Server 2012 Clustering Consulting Services.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is a component of VMware vCenter that lets you orchestrate, automate and verify a consistent runbook for restoring applications and services rapidly after an outage. SRM provides centrally managed and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, plus transparent site migration, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also enables non-disruptive testing for site recovery, updates and fixes and can generate reports to verify full service restoration, validate Service Level Agreements and demonstrate DR compliance. Progent can provide the skills of a VCDX certified VMware Site Recovery Manager consultant to help you to plan, deploy, test and maintain a disaster recovery system based on VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a high-availability and disaster recovery software suite that combines failover storage clustering along with synchronous replication to deliver fast, zero data loss disaster recovery (DR) between datacenters located as far as 300km away from one another. Progent offers the skills of a certified NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help your business to plan, configure, administer, update, test and repair a disaster recovery system based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to select an architecture for your MetroCluster deployment that meets your technical needs and IT budget. Progent can make sure you follow leading practices for configuring your MetroCluster environment by providing help with tasks like assigning shelf IDs, determining aggregate and plexes layout, setting up NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, installing Cisco and Brocade switches, implementing a tiebreaker, setting up a configuration replication network, and testing your disaster recovery system to show compliance with information assurance standards and regulatory requirements.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent offers fault tolerant load balancing consulting that addresses network load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN infrastructure routing, and content dispatching technology such as Cisco Content Engine. Fault tolerant load balancing solutions for which Progent offers consulting expertise include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For details, go to High Availability Load Balancing.

High-Availability Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can show you how to select high availability data centers that meet the specific requirements of your company. High availability co-location sites are especially appealing to small and mid-size businesses due to of their low cost and convenience in comparison to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to create an on-site data center with even a minimum level of fault tolerance is too expensive for most small organizations. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the advantages of non-stop colo centers by providing a full range of consulting and maintenance services. For details, see Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers Consulting.

Fault Tolerant Inter-office Networking
Progentís interoffice network infrastructure consultants can help businesses achieve fault tolerant branch office connections by means of fully redundant networks with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can plan and deploy ultra-reliable Inter-office networks based on fault tolerant EIGRP network routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how redundant connections and automatic fail-over can provide economical 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To read more, visit 24x7 Interoffice Connectivity.

24x7 Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified IT professionals can show you how to create an affordable, high availability Internet connection solution that can deliver non-stop Internet connectivity through a broad array of high availability Internet access solutions including fault tolerant BGP, automatic fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent offers Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to help you apply the latest technology for high availability Internet connections to implement an economical, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to deliver zero-downtime Internet access. To find out more, visit Non-stop Internet Access Architecture.

Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting Experts
Progent offers economical online access to engineers with expertise in a wide range of utilities and services that deliver solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux servers and workstations as well as notebooks and handhelds. Progent offers consulting support for all major backup platforms such as Acronis, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist, HP Data Protector, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Apple Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and Oracle Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can help you to design, upgrade, or maintain backup/restore systems for a range of topologies including local, remote, cloud-based, or a mix. To read more, visit Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Restore Consulting and Support Services
Progent's expert Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager support professionals can assist you to develop an effective disaster recovery strategy, design an affordable high-availability IT infrastructure, install a System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and recovery solution, thoroughly test your system, educate your administrative personnel or regular service providers how to manage Microsoft SCDPM, or provide complete information technology outsourcing services including off-site hosting of Microsoft SCDPM servers in Progent's world-class data center. For more information, see System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting and Support Services.

Barracuda Backup On-premises and Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is a low-cost, subscription-based backup/restore service for small and mid-size organizations. A Barracuda Backup solution can incorporate a purpose-built hardware storage device manufactured by Barracuda or a virtual appliance with comparable functionality but which utilizes your existing storage hardware. Barracuda Backup safeguards critical business data generated on-premises, at one or multiple remote sites, or in the cloud. For disaster recovery, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon Web Services (AWS), or to any location with a physical or virtual Barracuda Backup appliance. Progent is a Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts can provide a broad array of consulting services to assist you to plan, configure, manage and repair a backup and disaster recovery system built on Barracuda Backup. For details, go to Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consultants.

Altaro VM Backup Software for Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup provides small businesses a dependable and budget-friendly solution for backing up and recovering Hyper-V and VMware-powered virtual machines. Altaro VM Backup can be deployed in on-premises, remote, distributed, and cloud-hosted architectures and also enables cost-effective cloud backup to Microsoft Azure storage. Top capabilities include state-of-the-art inline deduplication to cut backup storage requirements, Continuous Data Protection with backup spacing as low as five minutes for minimizing your Recovery Point Objective (RPO), advanced encryption, item-level recovery capability for individual files and emails, support for Windows Cluster Shared Volumes and VMware vCenter for handling large-scale environments, and the ability to leverage Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up live virtual machines with zero downtime. Progent is a certified Altaro partner and offers a wide array of consulting services to assist you to plan, deploy, optimize and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution based on Altaro VM Backup. To find out more, go to Altaro VM Backup Consulting Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup and Recovery
Double-Take Software publishes a family of products designed to deliver small companies a range of cost-effective alternatives for replicating and restoring business-critical applications including Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have in-depth backgrounds incorporating Double-Take products into small business information networks to achieve a high level of fault tolerance and business continuity capability at an affordable cost. To find out more, go to Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup.

CRISC-qualified Network Risk Management
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was initiated by ISACA in 2010 to verify an IT professional's ability to plan, implement, and maintain IS control mechanisms to reduce network risk. Progent can provide the services of a CRISC-certified engineer to help your company to develop and execute a business continuity strategy based on leading practices identified by CRISC and crafted to match your company's risk tolerance, business goals, and IT budget. To learn more, go to CRISC-qualified IT risk management specialists.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and offers specialized application consulting for a broad variety of business software programs, Progent is able to help customers to arrive at complete IT solutions that substantially enhance the business value of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the services of certified engineers and specialists with expertise in architecting, deploying and troubleshooting networking environments built on Cisco technology. The depth and breadth of Progent's IT know-how and Progent's appreciation for the needs of small businesses make Progent the ideal partner for creating and maintaining a cost-effective, high-availability network.

How You Can Get Help from Progent's Consultants for High Availability Network Support
If you wish to ask Progent about consulting help for fault tolerant IT design, phone 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.
















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