Failover clustering plays a critical role in serious disaster recovery strategies. Windows Server 2008 R2 failover clustering support introduced enterprise-class fault tolerance and recoverability to Microsoft's server platform. Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this technology and offers important new and enhanced features that offer more expandability, non-stop storage availability for server applications, easier management, quicker automatic failover, and more options for designing failover clusters.
In addition to offering comprehensive Windows Server 2012 R2 consulting services, Progent's Microsoft-certified failover clustering experts can help you evaluate the benefits of adopting Windows Server 2012 R2 clustering technology to build an advanced high-availability/disaster recovery solution, assist you to design and deploy a failover cluster environment powered by Windows Server 2012 R2, provide online or on-premises consulting services and technical support for clustered physical servers or virtual machines, and show you how to streamline the management of clustered servers.
New and Improved Features of Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering
With failover clustering, if any clustered servers (called nodes) stop working properly, other servers automatically and transparently take up (or failover) their workloads such as Exchange Server or SQL Server. Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) is a refinement of failover clustering that provides a consistent, shared namespace that clustered services and applications (called roles) can use to utilize shared storage regardless of the node that is currently running them. This ability to replace IT resources on the fly can dramatically enhance network availability and facilitate rapid recovery in case of a localized catastrophic event.
Cluster Shared Volumes Allow Cluster Nodes to Access the Same NTFS File System Simultaneously
The failover clustering enhancements built into Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 include:
Failover clusters in Windows Server 2012 R2 can scale to a greater number of nodes and virtual machines than clusters in Windows Server†2008†R2. Windows Server 2012 R2 scales to 64 nodes and 8,000 virtual machines per cluster. In contrast, Windows Server 2008 R2 supports 16 nodes and 1,000 virtual machines per cluster.
Server Manager and Failover Cluster Manager
Windows Server 2012 R2's Server Manager makes it easy to manage cluster nodes by enabling remote multi-server management as well as the remote installation of roles and features. Server Manager can also start Failover Cluster Manager, which provides a wealth of new features including new search, filtering, and custom views; the ability to select a defined set of VMs for performing desired operations such as live migration; one-click configuration of Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs); and support for Hyper-V Replica for point-in-time replication of VMs.
Virtual Machine Mobility
Multiple live migrations including VM storage can be initiated at the same time to nodes with adequate resources and failed migrations are automatically retried. In addition, you can add or a virtual machine to a failover cluster while the VM is running.
Cluster Shared Volumes
Improvements to Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs), which provide clustered VMs with common storage, include storage capabilities for additional clustered roles, the CSV proxy file system (CSVFS), support for BitLocker encryption, Direct I/O for faster access to file data, elimination of external authentication dependencies, integration with SMB Multichannel and SMB Direct for better performance and with Storage Spaces for lower-cost storage, and the ability to scan and fix volumes without service disruption.
Support for Scale-Out File Servers
The new clustered file server makes it possible to store server application data like Hyper-V virtual machine files on scale-out (known as active-active) file shares, offering performance and manageability similar to storage area network (SAN) solutions.
Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU)
This new feature allows the automation of software updates to the host operating system or other system components on clustered servers without downtime.
Monitoring and Managing VM Applications
This new capability enables high-level monitoring of applications hosted on clustered VMs running Windows Server 2012 R2.
Integration with Active Directory Domain Services
Enhanced integration with Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) improves flexibility and resilience by including easy alignment of failover cluster dependencies on AD DS, automated recovery of unintentionally removed cluster virtual computer objects (VCOs), support for cluster deployments in branch office with read-only domain controllers, and the ability for failover clusters to start without AD DS dependencies.
Cluster Quorum Management
Improvements to cluster quorum management that simplify quorum setup and increase the uptime of clusters during the failover process include a revamped quorum configuration wizard, the ability to assign which nodes have quorum votes, and the ability to automate quorum vote assignment depending on the current state of the node.
Enhancements to the Cluster Migration Wizard
The enhanced Migrate a Cluster Wizard in Windows Server 2012 R2 simplifies the tasks of installing, updating, and migrating Windows 2008 failover clusters through improvements that include the ability to export and re-import Hyper-V VMs, migrate to Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) disks, map virtual networks and storage, and reuse current storage.
Task Scheduler Integration
Windows Server 2012 R2 failover clustering features a new integrated Task Scheduler that makes it possible to use Windows PowerShell cmdlets to configure cluster tasks, providing a versatile tool for utilizing cluster resources to run processes or applications at set times. Tasks can be scheduled to run on a single random node, all nodes, or nodes with specified resources.
Windows PowerShell support
An enhanced Failover Cluster module for Windows PowerShell provides a library of cmdlets for automating support for the Failover Clustering features in Windows Server 2012
R2. New cmdlets support a variety of features such as the ability to manage cluster registry checkpoints, create Scale-Out File Servers, monitor VM applications, change the properties of a Distributed Network Name resource, create and manage clustered tasks, and create a fault-tolerant iSCSI Target Server.
For details about Progent's consulting expertise for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, which provides enhanced support for failover clustering, refer to Progent's Consulting Services for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.
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 2012 R2 failover clustering, set up test systems to help you optimize performance and ensure compatibility for your critical workloads, design and carry out an efficient roll-out plan, train your administration staff to manage your failover clustering solution, and provide as-needed consulting and technical support either online or onsite to keep your system productive. Progent can also provide comprehensive Help Desk services.
Progent's service professionals can also help you migrate to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clusters from Windows Server 2008 R2 or from Windows Server 2003 clustering technology.
Progent's CISM, CISA, GIAC, CRISC, and CISSP 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 validate disaster recovery and business continuity and plans.
If you are considering the creation of a hybrid network model that integrates on-premises resources with public cloud services like those offered by Microsoft Azure, Progent can help you evaluate and deploy Windows Server 2016, which incorporates major elements of Azure technology and is designed to support hybrid networks. See Progent's Windows Server 2016 hybrid cloud solutions.
Additional High Availability Solutions Supported by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consultants can assist you to build an efficient, fault-tolerant network that resolves key challenges encompassing a broad array of infrastructure technologies and processes such as:
Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Business Continuity Planning
Progent's business continuity consultants can show you how to create a business continuity strategy so you can restore network operations in case of an IT system catastrophe. Progent can help you to create a complete disaster recovery strategy that incorporates scheduled disaster recovery assessments and drills. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consultants can also help you create an affordable, fault-tolerant network solution that takes into account availability issues covering a wide array of network technologies and procedures. For more information, see Business Continuity Expertise.
High Availability Internet Access
Progent's Cisco-certified network experts can help you create an economical, high availability Internet configuration architecture that can deliver 24x7 Internet connectivity through a broad range of high availability Internet access solutions including fault tolerant BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant Internet Service Providers. Progent offers CCIE consultants to help you apply the most advanced techniques for 24x7 Internet access to implement an economical, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver non-stop Internet availability. To learn more, visit High Availability Internet Connectivity Architecture.
Microsoft Server 2012 R2 Clustering
The cluster feature set built into the high-end editions of Windows Server 2012 R2 is radically redesigned to streamline the installation, configuration, and maintenance of server clusters that offer improved levels of system dependability, security, efficiency, and flexibility. New or improved features include automated cluster verification, easier setup and deployment, unified cluster administration, redesigned cluster infrastructure for increased uptime, hardened protection and quorum structure, minimization of failure points, more disk and memory capacity, and improvements for geographically dispersed clusters. For details, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Expertise.
Virtualization is a key part of any current disaster recovery solution. Virtualized servers can be configured, updated, copied, and restored quickly and easily, offering a degree of flexibility for ensuring maximum uptime almost impossible to meet with physical servers. Progent can assist you to design and deploy a virtualized environment powered by Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, which offers powerful business continuity capabilities that include transparent backup and live migration. Windows Hyper-V can eliminate most of the time required for scheduled maintenance, switching to hot backup sites, and recovering business-critical functions. For more details, visit Microsoft Windows 2016 Hyper-V Hybrid Cloud Solutions and Microsoft Windows 2012 Hyper-V Virtualization Consulting. Progent also offers expert VMware vSphere consulting and troubleshooting.
Network Load Balancing
Progent offers fault tolerant load balancing support covering network load balancing, load balanced applications, network infrastructure routing, and content delivery technology including Cisco Content Engine. High availability load balancing technologies for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Access Gateway, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To find out more, see High Availability Load Balancing.
Fault Tolerant Colocation
Progent's Data Center consultants can show you how to identify fault-tolerant data centers that meet the specific needs of your company. High availability colocation sites are particularly attractive to small and mid-size organizations because of their low cost and convenience compared to taking a do-it-yourself strategy. Attempting to create an in-house data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is too costly for the majority of small organizations. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the benefits of high-availability data centers by providing a full range of engineering and support services. To read more, go to Non-stop Internet Data Centers Expertise.
Non-stop Interoffice Connectivity
Progentís interoffice connection professionals can help organizations achieve non-stop branch office connections through redundant system architectures with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can plan and deploy fault-tolerant Inter-office connections based on zero-downtime EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how multi-path connectivity and automatic fail-over offers economical 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To read more, see 24x7 Inter-office Connectivity.
Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Recovery Consultants
Progent's expert Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager support professionals can assist you to develop an effective business continuity plan, implement an affordable zero-downtime IT architecture, configure a SCDPM-based backup and recovery system, thoroughly test your system, train your IT personnel or local consultants how to manage Microsoft SCDPM, or provide complete IT outsourcing such as off-site hosting of SCDPM servers in Progent's data center facility. For details, visit Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Expertise.
Fully Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service Package
Progentís affordable Offsite DPM Backup Service combines the power of System Center Data Protection Manager with the world-class security and availability features of the QTS (formerly Herakles) Internet Data Center in Sacramento to provide ongoing, non-disruptive backup for as much as 2.5 Terabytes of critical data from one or several of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's service offering includes all configuration, support, and monitoring needed for a complete offsite data backup system. For details, go to Fully Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service.
Backup and Restore Technology Consulting and Support Services
Progent offers affordable remote support from consultants with expertise in a wide range of utilities and technologies that provide solutions for backing up Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations as well as notebooks and handhelds. Progent can provide help for leading data protection platforms such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Apple Time Machine, vSphere Data Protection, and Oracle Solaris FLARs. Progent can assist you to deploy, enhance, or maintain data backup solutions for a range of topologies such as on-premises, remote, cloud, or hybrid. To read more, see Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting and Support Services.
Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Data Backup
Double-Take Software offers a selection of products designed to provide small and midsize businesses a variety of affordable alternatives for replicating and recovering vital applications such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning consultants have extensive experience incorporating Double-Take Software technology into small business IT networks to create an advanced level of fault tolerance and business continuity readiness at an affordable cost. To find out more, visit Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup.
CRISC-qualified IT Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was initiated by ISACA to verify an IT professional's ability to design, implement, and maintain information system controls to mitigate network risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to help you to create and execute a workplace continuity strategy based on leading practices identified by CRISC and geared to align with your company's risk tolerance, business goals, and budgetary guidelines. To learn more, visit CRISC-certified IT risk control specialists.
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides professional application expertise for a broad range of small business applications, Progent can help customers to find complete IT solutions that substantially enhance the business value of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the services of qualified engineers and specialists with expertise in architecting, deploying and maintaining networking environments built on Cisco technology. The depth of Progent's technical experience and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small businesses make Progent the ideal partner for building and running an affordable, high-availability network.
How to Get in Touch with Progent's Experts for Fault Tolerant Computing Services
To get in touch with Progent about technical expertise for fault tolerant infrastructure, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.