Windows Server 2016 Migration and IntegrationWindows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition includes significant enhancements to Failover Clustering, a key technology that supports disaster recovery (DR) and high availability by allowing you to combine multiple servers to form a fault-tolerant cluster on physical hardware or in virtual machines. A major enhancement is Storage Replica, Microsoft's first native solution for zero-data-loss disaster recovery, Storage Replica allows organizations to configure separate sites within a metro area to mirror data with crash-consistent volumes in order to ensure full data recovery in the event of a site outage. Windows Server 2016 includes a number of other important new and enhanced features for Failover Clusters, offering significant benefits in areas including availability and fault tolerance, Hyper-V virtualization, storage and infrastructure costs, ease of deployment, manageability, security, scale, performance, hybrid cloud support, health monitoring and audit reporting.

Windows Server 2016 is a cloud-tested platform that takes technology proven in Microsoft's vast Azure public cloud, including Azure's software-defined data plane, and makes it available for on premises deployments. As hybrid networks have become the norm, the migration of cloud technology to private data centers has made enterprise-class disaster recovery solutions practical for organizations of virtually any size.

Progent's team of disaster recovery consultants and certified Windows Server experts have the knowledge and experience to help you plan, deploy, test, maintain and troubleshoot a disaster recovery solution based on Windows Server 2016 that aligns with your business goals and IT budget. Progent's information assurance experts can help you prove compliance with regulatory requirements for disaster recovery, and Progent's business continuity consultants can help you integrate your disaster recovery strategy into a broader plan to keep your business operating at an acceptable level in the event of a predictable widespread catastrophe. By showing you practical and affordable ways to deploy Windows Server 2016 to improve your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO), Progent can help ensure that your investment in current disaster recovery and clustering technology adds maximum business value to your information network.

Windows Server 2016 Storage Replica
The headline disaster recovery feature of Windows Server 2016 is Storage Replica, Microsoft's first foray into zero-data-loss DR. Storage Replica allows you to mirror data between sites located within metro distances by using synchronous replication over a low-latency (5 ms or better round trip) TCP/IP or RDMA network using an SMB3 transport. If a protected site (also called a source or primary site) suffers a complete shutdown, you can switch quickly to the recovery site (also called destination or secondary site) without losing any data written to disk storage. Storage Replica can also be used for disaster avoidance, where users are seamlessly switched over to a recovery site in expectation of an imminent catastrophe such as a flood, wildfire or hurricane. For sites separated by longer distances or otherwise subject to higher latencies, Storage Replica supports an asynchronous replication mode that provides minimal data loss.

Storage Replica uses block-level replication between clusters or servers. This means that protected applications write data to at least two locations before the completion of any write operation. Because Storage Replica operates below the file level, it avoids the restrictions of technologies like DFS Replication, which requires that files be closed before replication and is subject to issues like files locks and open handles. Progent can help you upgrade from low-end disaster recovery solutions like DFS Replication to a zero-data-loss DR solution based on Windows Server 2016 Storage Replica.

For higher latency networks that span longer distances, Storage Replica supports asynchronous replication. Since Storage Replica asynchronous replication is continuous, not checkpoint based, the amount of data at risk of being lost is far lower than DR solutions based on snapshots. In addition, Storage Replica works at the partition layer, so it replicates all Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots, allowing application-consistent data snapshots for point-in-time recovery.

Windows Server 2016 Storage Replica Consulting

Storage Replica allows replication between clusters with zero data loss at the file-system level

Topologies supported by Storage Replica include stretch clusters, cluster-to-cluster, and server-to-server. These configurations can run on physical hardware or VMs based on Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix XenServer, or other leading virtualization platforms. Stretch cluster configurations allow you to orchestrate and automate the failover process for workloads like Hyper-V private cloud clusters and SQL Server Failover Cluster Instance (FCI) and can be managed with Failover Cluster Manager. Storage Replica with stretched clusters can use Storage Spaces, SAN, iSCSI, and RAID through persistent reservation and can be run with two or more nodes.

The cluster-to-cluster configuration utilizes uses two distinct clusters and allows administrators to control the failover process manually. This topology is suited for environments where the secondary site set up solely for disaster recovery rather than as an active data center. With a cluster-to-cluster configuration, Storage Replica supports the cost-saving Storage Spaces feature of Windows Server 2016 and can be run with four or more nodes.

If your hardware does not support clustering, you can run Storage Replica in a server-to-server configuration. In this case the failover process must be performed manually. This can be a cost-effective DR solution between branch offices and data centers, and with asynchronous replication can support significantly better RPO than can be achieved with DFS Replication.

Progent can help you determine which Storage Replica topology makes the most sense for you business and can also help you plan, deploy, manage and troubleshoot your Storage Replica solution. For other zero-data-loss disaster recovery platforms supported by Progent, see VMware Site Recovery Manager consulting and NetApp MetroCluster disaster recovery consulting.

Additional Features of Windows Server 2016 for Failover Clustering
Important new and enhanced features of Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Storage Spaces Direct allows you to pool low-cost commodity servers running Windows Server 2016 to create network attached failover storage clusters. The rotating and solid-state disks (SSDs) integrated with each server are automatically onboarded to the Failover Cluster by Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), and you can combine as many as 16 servers and 400 drives for up to 1 petabyte of storage per cluster. New servers can be added in minutes, and with Microsoft System Center require only a checkbox to install. The scale-out servers use their built-in Ethernet RDMA controllers and Microsoft's SMB3 transport to interconnect, eliminating the expense and management overhead associated with deploying a SAN solution with FC fabric.

    When you create volumes from the storage pool, Storage Spaces Direct automatically generates a virtual disk and takes care of partitioning, formatting, and adding it to your Failover Cluster so it can be accessed by any node as a CSV. These shared volumes can tolerate drive, server, or component failures with uninterrupted availability, and you can replace failed hardware without downtime or complex management intervention. Performance can exceed 150,000 mixed random IOPS per server thanks to an integrated read/write cache and support for NVMe drives mounted directly on the PCIe bus. Storage Spaces Direct automatically utilizes the fastest storage available, such as SSDs, for its always-on cache.

    Windows Server 2016 Storage Replica Consulting

    Hyper-converged deployments of Storage Spaces Direct are a good fit for SMBs or branch offices

    System Center 2016 Virtual Machine Manager supports two models for configuring and managing Storage Spaces Direct clusters. In a converged deployment, also called disaggregated, compute and storage resources run on different clusters. This provides administrators with the flexibility to scale compute resources independently from storage and is suitable for enterprises with larger environments and the skills to manage complex deployments. With a hyper-converged deployment model, Hyper-V compute and storage share the same cluster. This model, which minimizes hardware costs and is easier to configure and manage, is appropriate for smaller organizations or branch offices.

  • Health Service is a feature introduced in Windows Server 2016 for monitoring the performance and capacity of Storage Spaces Direct clusters. Metrics reported by Health Service include IOPS, IO throughput and latency, physical (raw) storage and storage pool capacity, volume capacity, processor utilization, and memory. Health Service also continually monitors Storage Spaces Direct clusters and generates fault alerts ranked by severity and covering cluster and storage hardware, the Storage Spaces software stack, storage Quality of Service, and Storage Replica. For conciseness, fault alerts report root causes, such as a failed enclosure, rather than all the components affected by the failure.

    Health Service can automate workflows in the disk retirement/replacement cycle by reporting a failed disk, copying data from the retired disk to the remaining disks to restore full resiliency, indicating a failed disk by blinking its disk or slot indicator light, verifying a replacement disk against a Supported Components Document, and substituting the replacement disk into the storage pool previously occupied by the retired disk.

  • Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade is a new feature of Windows Server 2016 that allows the live migration of all virtual machines in a cluster from a Windows Server 2012 R2 host to Windows Server 2016 host. This lets you move Hyper-V and scale-out file server workloads to the latest version of Windows Server with zero interruption of service, avoiding downtime penalties against SLAs. Other cluster workloads like SQL Server are paused only for the few minutes required to failover to Windows Server 2016. The rolling upgrade process requires no extra hardware and the upgraded cluster continues using the existing cluster objects stored in Active Directory.

    Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade utilizes a new mixed-OS mode that allows nodes with different host operating system versions to run within the same cluster. This allows you to pause, drain, evict, and reformat any node in the cluster, install Windows Server 2016 on the node, and bring the node back online. The Failover Cluster continues operating during this procedure as it would during any node outage. You can then use Failover Cluster Manager or PowerShell to add the upgraded node back into the cluster. All nodes operate at the older Windows Server 2012 R2 functional level until every node in the cluster has been upgraded. When all nodes have been migrated to Windows Server 2016, the entire cluster can be upgraded at once to the new functionality level with a single PowerShell cmdlet.

    Windows Server 2016 Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade Consulting

    Rolling Upgrades allow you to stage a migration to Windows Server 2016 VMs without incurring cluster downtime

    Progent can guide you through the Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade process following best practices, help you load balance the upgraded cluster, and show you how to take advantage of the new features provided by Windows Server 2016.

  • Fault Domains are hardware entities that share a single point of failure. Servers, or nodes, are the original fault domain supported by Windows Server Failover Clustering. Windows Server 2016 adds support for fault domains at the chassis, rack and site levels. Fault domain awareness improves fault tolerance by helping to distribute data across multiple vulnerable components so copies of protected data reside in different fault domains. Windows Server 2016 allows you to define fault domains with PowerShell or XML markup. Storage Spaces Direct uses fault domains to optimize data protection by automatically placing copies of data on different drives, nodes, chasses and racks. Windows Server 2016 Health Service uses fault domains to improve the usefulness of alerts. Stretch clustering uses fault domains for storage affinity, improving performance by running applications or VMs on servers in closest proximity to their storage servers.

  • Virtual Machine Load Balancing is a new integrated feature of Windows Server 2016 that allows automatic live migration of virtual machines between nodes within a Failover Cluster. This helps maximize availability and performance of Failover Clusters and reduces the need to deploy additional physical servers to handle critical workloads during peak periods. VM Load Balancing improves performance, fault tolerance and resource utilization by automatically determining whether a node has become overloaded and assigning VMs from that node to an under-committed one, such as a server that has just been rebooted. This process requires no downtime, takes into account failure policies like fault domains, and is based on heuristics for weighing VM memory pressure, which is the most common resource constraint on a Hyper-V host, and CPU utilization of the node. VM Load Balancing can be configured to run every 30 minutes or on demand, and you can use PowerShell to select one of three thresholds for determining the aggressiveness of load balancing.

    Windows Server 2016 Virtual Machine Load Balancing Consulting

    VM Load Balancing automatically and non-disruptively moves VMs from over-utilized to under-utilized nodes

  • Virtual Machine Start Order is a new feature in Windows Server 2016 Failover Clustering that allows you to orchestrate the priority in which VMs and all groups in a cluster are activated or re-activated. You can group VMs into tiers and define dependencies between different tiers. This can ensure, for example, that VM domain controllers are started first. This avoids scenarios where VMs that require services are activated before the VMs that deliver those services.

  • Cloud Witness is a new type of quorum witness for Windows Server 2016 Failover Clusters that uses Microsoft Azure Blob Storage to maintain a blob file to act as the quorum arbitration point. The quorum witness has a vote in determining whether to keep a stretch cluster running after a datacenter experiences an outage and is an important component of an enterprise-class disaster recovery solution. Leveraging the Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure is an easy and affordable way to host an offsite quorum witness without the cost and management overhead of deploying a separate datacenter. This also adheres to best practices when designing the topology of a quorum witness. You can use a single Azure Storage Account for multiple clusters, with one blob file required for each cluster. Since only a small amount of data is written to the blob file, which is updated only when the state of the cluster nodes change, the ongoing costs of the Azure storage account is low.

    Windows Server 2016 Cloud Witness Consulting

    Azure-based Cloud Witness is a fast, affordable way to configure a Failover Cluster quorum witness

  • Support for Workgroup and Multi-domain Clusters makes it possible to create Windows Server 2016 Failover Clusters without Active Directory dependencies. In previous releases of Windows Server, Failover Clusters could only be created with server nodes joined to the same domain. Windows Server 2016 still lets you create single-domain clusters but you can also deploy Workgroup clusters and Multi-domain clusters with nodes that are members of different domains. You can use Failover Cluster Manager or PowerShell to create Workgroup clusters and Multi-domain clusters. The recommended witness type for Workgroup clusters and Multi-domain clusters is Disk Witness or the new Windows Server 2016 Cloud Witness. File Share Witness is unsupported for clusters with nodes that are not domain joined.
How Progent Can Help You with Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Microsoft Gold-certified consulting team can help organizations of any size to design a non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016 based on the new Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade feature. Progent can help you configure Windows Server 2016 for one or multiple physical datacenters, for a cloud-centric deployment, or for a hybrid environment that seamlessly combines local and cloud resources. Progent's disaster recovery and business continuity consultants can help you design and validate a disaster recovery plan that incorporates Microsoft's latest high-availability technology for Failover Clusters including Storage Replica for zero-data-loss Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class network-attached storage using commodity hardware, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for improving the performance and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while minimizing capital investment and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, low-cost deployment of a stretch cluster quorum witness.

Progent's information assurance consultants can help you achieve and prove compliance with regulatory and industry data security requirement such as SOX, ISO 27001, PCI DSS 3.2 and FedRAMP by showing you how to configure the powerful new security tools available with Windows Server 2016 including Windows Containers, Shielded Virtual Machines, Credential Guard, Remote Credential Guard and Just In Time (JIT) Privileged Access Management. (For a description of these security enhancements, see Windows Server 2016 integration consulting.)

Progent's information assurance consultants can help you deploy new security feature like Windows and Hyper-V Containers, Shielded Virtual Machines, Credential Guard, Remote Credential Guard and Just In Time (JIT) Privileged Access Management to make it easier for you to comply with regulatory and industry data security requirement such as SOX, ISO 27001, PCI DSS 3.2, and FedRAMP. Progent's roster of Cisco CCIE-certified network infrastructure consultants is one of the largest of any independent IT services firm in the U.S., and Progent can help you design, deploy and manage a hybrid network ecosystem that fully delivers the high-availability and disaster recovery capabilities of Windows Server 2016. To streamline the management of your Windows Server 2016 Failover Clusters, Progent can provide expertise with PowerShell scripting, Failover Cluster Manager, Hyper-V Manager, System Center 2016 migration, System Center 2016 Operations Manager (SCOM 2016) integration and Virtual Machine Manager 2016 (VVM 2016) hybrid cloud management consulting.

To help you protect critical Microsoft workloads with Windows Server 2016's disaster recovery solutions, Progent offers services that include Exchange 2016 integration consulting, SQL Server 2016 consulting, and SharePoint development and integration. For hybrid environments that use public cloud services, Progent offers Office 365 Exchange Online consulting and Amazon AWS integration.

Progent's Online Consulting and Troubleshooting Expertise
Progent is a pioneer in delivering online consulting and troubleshooting expertise and has provided remote solutions to organizations in every state in the U.S. (See Progent's Customer Testimonials.) Progent also offers onsite consulting services in major metropolitan areas across the United States and parts of Canada. Progent can provide as-needed guidance to help you resolve occasional technical issues or full project management outsourcing or co-sourcing services to make sure your Windows Server 2016 initiative is successfully completed on time and within budget.

If you need immediate online help from a Progent consultant, visit Progent's Online Technical Response Center.

Contact Progent for Windows Server 2016 Expertise
For more information about Progent's consulting and troubleshooting support for Windows Server 2016, call 1-800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.

Additional Fault Tolerant Solutions Offered by Progent's Experts
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco support professionals can help you to build a sensible, non-stop network that addresses key challenges covering a wide range of networking solutions and processes such as:

Workplace Recovery Planning
Progent's business continuity planning engineers can show you how to create a disaster recovery plan that will allow you to restore network operations in the event of an information system catastrophe. Progent can assist you to create a complete disaster recovery plan that incorporates periodic disaster recovery assessments and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized engineers can also help you build an affordable, zero-downtime network solution that addresses reliability issues covering a wide array of infrastructure technologies and procedures. To read more, see Business Continuity Consulting and Support Services.

Non-stop Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-authorized network experts can help you design an affordable, high availability Internet connection architecture that can achieve 24x7 Internet connectivity via a broad array of fault tolerant Internet network technologies including high availability BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant Internet Service Providers. Progent offers CCIE professionals to show you how to apply the most advanced techniques for fault tolerant Internet connectivity to create an economical, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to deliver zero-downtime Internet availability. To read more, go to High Availability Internet Connectivity Architecture.

Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 brought world-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering solution. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and delivers significant improvements that offer increased extensibility, non-stop storage uptime for server applications, easier management, faster automatic failover, and additional flexibility for architecting failover clusters. For details, go to Windows Server 2012 Clustering Integration.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is an extension to VMware vCenter that allows you to define, automate and test a consistent process for restoring applications and services rapidly following an outage. SRM provides centrally managed and automated recovery, application mobility, plus transparent site relocation, failback and site re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also enables non-disruptive testing for site recovery, updates and fixes and can produce reports to verify full service restoration, validate Service Level Agreements and prove compliance. Progent offers the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist your organization to plan, configure, test and manage a disaster recovery system powered by VMware SRM.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Technology
NetApp MetroCluster is a high-availability and disaster recovery software suite that uses array-based storage clustering with synchronous replication to provide rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between sites that are up to 300km away from one another. Progent offers online or on-premises access to a NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help your business to design, configure, manage, upgrade, test and repair a disaster recovery solution based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to select an architecture for your MetroCluster environment that meets your technical needs and IT budget. Progent can ensure you follow leading practices for installing your MetroCluster environment by delivering help with tasks like assigning disk pools and shelf IDs, arranging aggregate layout, provisioning FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, installing Cisco and Brocade switches, implementing a tiebreaker, designing a configuration replication network, and verifying your MetroCluster disaster recovery solution to verify adherence with information assurance standards and government mandates.

High Availability Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting covering network load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content dispatching products such as Cisco Content Engine. Fault tolerant load balancing products for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Metaframe and Access Gateway, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Engine and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For more information, see Non-stop Load Balancing.

Fault Tolerant Data Centers
Progent's Data Center engineers can show you how to select high availability data centers that meet the specific needs of your business. Fault tolerant collocation sites are particularly appealing to small and mid-size organizations due to of their low cost and convenience compared to pursuing a do-it-yourself strategy. Attempting to design an on-site data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is too expensive for typical small businesses. Progent is ready to show you how to reap all the benefits of high-availability Internet data centers by providing a full range of engineering and support services. To read more, go to Fault Tolerant Data Centers Solutions.

Failsafe Branch Office Networking
Progentís inter-site connectivity engineers can help businesses create zero-downtime interoffice connections by means of fully redundant networks featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can plan and implement ultra-reliable Inter-office networks based on fault tolerant EIGRP routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how multi-path connections and transparent fail-over can provide economical non-stop interoffice connectivity. For details, see Failsafe Interoffice Connectivity.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Restore Consulting
Progent's expert System Center Data Protection Manager consultants can assist you to create an effective disaster recovery strategy, implement a cost-effective fault-tolerante IT infrastructure, deploy a Microsoft SCDPM-based recovery solution, thoroughly validate your DPM system, educate your IT staff or local service providers how to manage System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide complete information technology outsourcing such as off-site housing of virtual or physical SCDPM machines in Progent's secure data center. To read more, visit System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting Services.

Fully Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service
Progentís affordable Offsite DPM-based Backup Service combines the advanced capabilities of Data Protection Manager with the world-class security and availability features of the QTS Internet Data Center in Sacramento, California to deliver continual, 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, management, and monitoring required for a comprehensive offsite data backup system. To learn more, see Fully Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package.

Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Experts
Progent can provide affordable remote access to consultants skilled in a broad array of products and services that provide solutions for backing up Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and workstations plus laptops and smartphones. Progent offers consulting support for all major backup platforms such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can help your company to design, enhance, or maintain backup solutions for a range of environments such as local, remote, cloud, or a mix. For more information, go to Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting and Support Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take publishes a family of products designed to provide small businesses a variety of affordable alternatives for backing up and restoring vital applications such as Exchange Server, SQL Server, Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have in-depth experience integrating Double-Take products into small business IT networks to create an advanced state of availability and disaster recovery readiness at a budget-friendly price. To learn more, visit Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup.

CRISC-certified Network Risk Management
The CRISC program was established by ISACA in 2010 to verify a consultant's ability to design, deploy, and maintain information system control mechanisms to reduce risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified consultant to assist you to develop and carry out a business continuity or disaster recovery plan based on leading practices promoted by CRISC and geared to match your organization's risk appetite, business objectives, and budgetary guidelines. For details, see CRISC-qualified IT risk management experts.

Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides high-level application expertise for a broad variety of business applications, Progent is able to assist clients to find efficient information technology solutions that maximize the business value of your network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of certified consultants and specialists with experience in architecting, implementing and maintaining networking environments based on Cisco products. The depth of Progent's IT experience and Progent's appreciation for the needs of small and midsize companies make Progent the perfect partner for creating and running a cost-effective, fault-tolerant network.

How to Contact Progent's Consultants for Non-stop Computing Services
If you wish to contact Progent about consulting assistance for non-stop LAN design, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.
















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