Windows Server 2012 R2 SupportFailover 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.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Cluster Shared Volumes

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:

Cluster Expandability
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.

Additional Zero-Downtime Technologies Provided by Progent's Experts
Progent's certified consulting experts can help your company to build a cost-effective, non-stop environment that resolves critical problems covering a wide range of networking solutions and operations including:

Workplace Recovery Planning
Progent's disaster recovery planning consultants can show you how to create a disaster recovery plan that will allow you to restore IT functionality in case of an information network disaster. Progent can help you to create a complete disaster recovery plan that incorporates scheduled disaster recovery assessments and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified professionals can also show you how to build an affordable, non-stop network solution that addresses reliability issues covering a wide range of network technologies and processes. To read more, go to Business Continuity Expertise.

Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-certified IT consultants can show you how to design an economical, high availability Internet configuration solution that can deliver non-stop Internet access through a broad array of high availability Internet access solutions including high availability BGP, automatic fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent offers CCIE professionals to show you how to apply the most advanced techniques for high availability Internet connectivity to build an economical, fully redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other capabilities to create non-stop Internet access. For more information, go to Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity Architecture.

Microsoft Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering
The clustering feature set built into the high-end editions of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 is radically redesigned to streamline the deployment, configuration, and administration of server clusters that provide greater levels of system dependability, security, performance, and versatility. New or improved features include automated cluster verification, easier setup and installation, improved cluster management, new cluster architecture for increased availability, hardened security and quorum models, elimination of failure points, greater storage and RAM capacity, and enhancements for multi-site clusters. For details, go to Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Help.

Server Virtualization
Virtualization is central to any up-to-date disaster recovery solution. Virtual servers can be configured, re-purposed, replicated, and restored quickly and simply, providing a level of versatility for achieving maximum uptime impossible to match with traditional physical servers. Progent can help you to design and implement a virtualized environment based on Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, which offers advanced business continuity features that include online system backup and live migration. Microsoft Windows Hyper-V can save most of the time needed for scheduled maintenance, switching to emergency backup sites, and restoring normal network functions. For additional information, see Microsoft Windows Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting Services.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent offers high availability load balancing consulting covering system load balancing, load balanced applications, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content delivery technology including Cisco Content Engine. Non-stop load balancing products for which Progent offers consulting expertise include Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Engine and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. To find out more, see Non-stop Load Balancing.

High-Availability Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can help you select zero-downtime data centers that meet the particular needs of your company. Fault tolerant collocation sites are especially attractive 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 build an on-site data center with even a basic degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for the majority of small businesses. Progent can show you how to reap all the benefits of high-availability data centers by providing a complete range of consulting and maintenance services. For details, see High-Availability Colocation Consulting.

High-Availability Interoffice Connectivity
Progentís multi-site network infrastructure professionals can help companies achieve fault tolerant interoffice connectivity solutions through fully redundant system architectures with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE engineers can plan and deploy ultra-reliable Inter-office networks supported by non-stop EIGRP network routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connectivity and automatic fail-over offers economical non-stop interoffice networking. For details, see Non-stop Inter-office Connectivity.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Restore Consulting Services
Progent's certified Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager consultants can assist your company to develop a practical workplace recovery strategy, implement an affordable non-stop IT architecture, deploy a Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager-based backup and restore solution, thoroughly test your system, train your administrative staff or regular service providers how to manage SCDPM, or provide complete IT outsourcing including off-site housing of virtual or physical SCDPM machines in Progent's data center. For details, see Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting and Support Services.

Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service
Progentís affordably priced Offsite DPM-based Backup Service incorporates the power of Data Protection Manager (DPM) with the state-of-the-art security and availability features of the Herakles data center to provide ongoing, transparent backup for up to 2.5TB of data from one or more of your Windows servers. Progent's service package includes all configuration, management, and tracking needed for a comprehensive offsite backup solution. For details, visit Fully Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service Package.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consultants
Progent offers economical remote support from engineers with expertise in a broad array of utilities and services that deliver solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and desktops as well as laptops and smartphones. Progent can provide help for leading backup products including Acronis Backup and Recovery, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, HP Data Protector, Double-Take, Mozy, Retrospect for Macintosh, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and FLARs. Progent can assist your company to deploy, upgrade, or maintain backup/restore systems for a range of topologies such as local, remote, cloud, or hybrid. To read more, see Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting.

Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup/Restore
Double-Take Software offers a selection of products designed to provide small companies a variety of affordable solutions for backing up and recovering vital workloads such as Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL, Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning consultants have in-depth backgrounds integrating Double-Take technology into small business information networks to achieve a high state of availability and business continuity readiness at an affordable cost. For more information, see Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup.

CRISC-qualified Network Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was established by ISACA in 2010 to validate an IT professional's ability to design, deploy, and support information system controls to mitigate network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to assist you to create and carry out a workplace continuity plan based on industry best practices identified by CRISC and crafted to align with your company's risk tolerance, business goals, and IT budget. For more information, go to CRISC-qualified network risk control experts.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Gold Partner and offers specialized application support for a wide variety of small business applications, Progent is able to assist customers to find complete IT solutions that maximize the productivity of your IT network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the support of qualified consultants and specialists with experience in architecting, deploying and maintaining networking solutions based on Cisco products. The depth and breadth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small and midsize companies make Progent the ideal partner for building and maintaining an affordable, fault-tolerant information system.

How You Can Get in Touch with Progent's Consultants for Fault Tolerant Computing Services
In order to contact Progent about technical help for non-stop computing, call 1-800-993-9400 or see Contact Progent.

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