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 High Availability Solutions Offered by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco consultants can help you to create an efficient, fault-tolerant environment that resolves critical challenges encompassing a wide array of networking technologies and processes including:

Business Continuity Planning
Progent's disaster recovery planning engineers can help you create a disaster recovery strategy so you can restore network functionality in the event of an information network disaster. Progent can help you to create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that incorporates periodic disaster recovery evaluations and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized professionals can also help you create an affordable, fault-tolerant network architecture that addresses reliability issues involving a broad array of network technologies and procedures. To read more, visit Business Continuity Consulting.

High Availability Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified IT engineers can help you build an economical, fault tolerant Internet configuration solution that can deliver non-stop Internet connectivity through a wide range of fault tolerant Internet access solutions including fault tolerant BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent offers CCIE engineers to help you apply the latest techniques for 24x7 Internet connections to build an affordable, fully redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to create zero-downtime Internet access. For details, go to 24x7 Internet Connectivity Architecture.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Clusters
The cluster technology incorporated into the Datacenter and Enterprise versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 is dramatically redesigned to simplify the installation, setup, and administration of server clusters that provide improved levels of network dependability, protection, performance, and versatility. New or improved features include automated cluster validation, revamped configuration and installation, unified cluster management, new cluster architecture for maximum availability, hardened protection and quorum models, elimination of failure points, more disk and memory capacity, and enhancements for geographically dispersed clusters. To find out more, see Windows Server 2012 R2 Clustering Help.

Server Virtualization
Virtualization is a key part of any current disaster recovery strategy. Virtual servers can be provisioned, updated, copied, and restored rapidly and easily, providing a level of flexibility for ensuring maximum uptime almost impossible to meet with physical servers. Progent can help your company to plan and deploy a virtualized environment based on Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, which incorporates powerful business continuity features that include online backup and live migration. Microsoft Windows Hyper-V can save most of the time and effort needed for scheduled service, switching to hot backup sites, and restoring normal network functions. For more information, visit Windows Hyper-V Virtual Server Consulting Services.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting covering system load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content delivery technology including Cisco Content Engine. High availability load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Presentation Server, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To find out more, see Non-stop Load Balancing.

Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you identify fault-tolerant data centers that match the specific requirements of your company. Fault tolerant co-location sites are particularly attractive to small and mid-size companies because of their affordability and simplified logistics compared to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to design an in-house data center that offers even a minimum level of fault tolerance is too expensive for typical small companies. Progent is ready to help you get all the advantages of 24x7 colo centers by providing a complete range of engineering and support services. To learn more, visit High-Availability Colocation Expertise.

Non-stop Branch Office Networking
Progentís multi-site network infrastructure engineers can help organizations achieve fault tolerant multi-site connectivity by means of redundant networks with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can design and deploy ultra-reliable Inter-office networks supported by fault tolerant EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how redundant connectivity and automatic fail-over can provide affordable non-stop interoffice networking. To find out more, go to Fault Tolerant Inter-office Connectivity.

System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Data Recovery Consulting
Progent's certified Microsoft SCDPM engineers can help your company to develop an effective disaster recovery strategy, implement an affordable non-stop IT architecture, configure a Microsoft SCDPM-based backup and restore solution, comprehensively test your DPM system, educate your IT staff or local service providers how to manage Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide complete information technology outsourcing including remote housing of SCDPM machines in Progent's world-class data center. To find out more, see System Center Data Protection Manager Expertise.

Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package
Progentís affordably priced Offsite DPM Backup Service combines the advanced capabilities of System Center Data Protection Manager with the state-of-the-art security features of the QTS (formerly Herakles) Colocation Center in Sacramento to provide ongoing, transparent backup for up to 2.5 Terabytes of data from one or more of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's service package includes all configuration, support, and monitoring required for a complete offsite data backup system. For more information, go to Fully Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service Package.

Backup and Restore Technology Consultants
Progent can provide affordable remote access to engineers skilled in a wide range of utilities and technologies that deliver solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux servers and desktops plus laptops and handhelds. Progent offers consulting support for all major data protection products including Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan, Double-Take Software, Mozy, Retrospect, Apple Time Machine, vSphere Data Protection, and Solaris FLARs. Progent can assist you to design, enhance, or maintain data backup systems for a range of architectures such as local, remote, cloud, or a mix. For more information, visit Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting and Support Services.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup and Recovery
Double-Take Software publishes a family of products intended to provide small businesses a range of affordable solutions for replicating and restoring vital workloads such as Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning experts have in-depth backgrounds incorporating Double-Take products into small business IT networks to achieve an advanced state of fault tolerance and disaster recovery capability at a budget-friendly cost. To find out more, go to Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-qualified IT Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was established by ISACA to validate a consultant's skills to plan, deploy, and maintain IS control mechanisms to reduce risk. Progent can provide the services of a CRISC-certified consultant to help your company to create and carry out a business continuity or disaster recovery strategy that follows leading practices identified by CRISC and crafted to align with your company's risk appetite, business objectives, and IT budget. For details, see CRISC-certified IT risk mitigation specialists.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides high-level application support for a wide variety of small business software programs, Progent is able to assist customers to arrive at comprehensive information technology solutions that maximize the productivity of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the services of certified consultants and specialists with expertise in designing, installing and supporting networking solutions built on Cisco technology. The depth and breadth of Progent's IT know-how and Progent's sensitivity to the requirements of small companies make Progent a great resource for building and running a cost-effective, dependable network.

How to Get Help from Progent's Experts for Non-stop System Support
If you wish to ask Progent about professional expertise for high availability infrastructure, phone 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.

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