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 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) consulting and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) integration.

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 Zero-Downtime Technologies Offered by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco consultants can assist your business to build an affordable, non-stop environment that resolves major issues encompassing a broad range of infrastructure solutions and operations including:

Business Continuity Planning
Progent's business continuity engineers can show you how to design a disaster recovery plan in order to restore IT operations in the event of an information system catastrophe. Progent can assist you to define a complete disaster recovery strategy that includes periodic disaster recovery assessments and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified professionals can also help you create an affordable, high-availability network architecture that takes into account availability issues involving a broad array of infrastructure technologies and procedures. For details, see Disaster Recovery Expertise.

Fault Tolerant Internet Access
Progent's Cisco-authorized network experts can help you create 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 multiple ISPs. Progent offers CCIE professionals to show you how to apply the most advanced technology for fault tolerant Internet connectivity to create a cost-effective, fully redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver non-stop Internet access. To find out more, see Non-stop Internet Access Architecture.

Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2008 R2 brought world-class availability and system recovery to Microsoft's clustering platform. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and delivers significant enhancements that offer more scalability, better storage uptime for server applications, easier management, quicker automatic failover, and more options for architecting failover clusters. To find out more, go to Windows Server 2012 Clustering Migration and Support.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is an extension to VMware vCenter that allows you to orchestrate, automate and verify a consistent process for recovering applications and services rapidly following an outage. Site Recovery Manager provides centrally managed and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, and non-disruptive site relocation, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also allows non-intrusive testing for disaster recovery, updates and patches and can produce reports to confirm complete service recovery, validate Service Level Agreements and prove DR compliance. Progent can provide the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist your organization to plan, configure, test and maintain a disaster recovery solution based on VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery Platform
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses array-based storage clustering with synchronous replication to deliver rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between sites that are up to 300km apart from each other. Progent can provide the skills of a certified NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help you to plan, deploy, manage, update, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery system built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to choose an architecture for your MetroCluster environment that meets your functional needs and budget. Progent can make sure you adhere to best practices for installing your MetroCluster environment by providing guidance with tasks such as assigning shelf IDs, determining aggregate and plexes layout, provisioning FlexVol volumes, setting up NetApp Snapshot, provisioning Cisco and Brocade switches, implementing a tiebreaker, setting up a configuration replication network, and verifying your MetroCluster disaster recovery solution to prove compliance with industry standards and government mandates.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent offers fault tolerant load balancing consulting that addresses network load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content dispatching products such as F5 Networks 3DNS. High availability load balancing solutions for which Progent can provide consulting services include Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Engine and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For details, visit High Availability Load Balancing.

Zero Downtime Colocation
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you identify zero-downtime data centers that meet the particular requirements of your company. Fault tolerant off-site data centers are especially appealing to small and mid-size companies because of their affordability and convenience compared to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Trying to create an in-house data center with even a minimum level of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for the majority of small organizations. Progent can help you get all the advantages of non-stop colo centers by offering a full array of engineering and support services. To learn more, go to Non-stop Internet Data Centers Solutions.

Non-stop Inter-office Connectivity
Progentís inter-site network infrastructure engineers can help businesses create fault tolerant inter-site connectivity solutions by means of redundant system architectures with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-qualified CCIE engineers can design and implement ultra-reliable Inter-office networks supported by zero-downtime EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how redundant connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide affordable 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To read more, see Failsafe Inter-office Networking.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Data Recovery Consulting and Support Services
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) support professionals can assist your company to create a practical workplace recovery strategy, implement a cost-effective non-stop IT infrastructure, install a Microsoft SCDPM-powered backup and recovery solution, comprehensively validate your DPM system, train your IT personnel or regular service providers how to maintain Microsoft SCDPM, or provide extensive information technology outsourcing services including off-site housing of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager servers in Progent's secure data center. For more information, see System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting.

Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service Package
Progentís affordably priced Offsite DPM-based Backup Service combines the advanced capabilities of Data Protection Manager (DPM) with the state-of-the-art security and availability facilities of the QTS Internet Data Center in Sacramento, California to provide ongoing, transparent backup for up to 2.5TB of data from one or several of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's managed service package includes all configuration, management, and monitoring needed for a complete offsite data backup system. For more information, see Managed Offsite DPM Backup Service.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting Experts
Progent can provide economical online access to IT engineers skilled in a broad array of products and technologies that deliver solutions for backing up Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux/UNIX servers and workstations plus laptops and handhelds. Progent can provide consulting support for leading backup products including Acronis, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, HP Data Protector, Double-Take, MozyPro, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and Oracle Solaris FLARs. Progent can help your company to implement, enhance, or troubleshoot data backup solutions for a variety of architectures including on-premises, remote, cloud-based, or a mix. For more information, go to Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting.

Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take publishes a family of products intended to deliver small and midsize companies a variety of cost-effective solutions for replicating and recovering business-critical applications including Exchange, SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have in-depth experience integrating Double-Take technology into small company IT systems to create an advanced state of availability and disaster recovery capability at a budget-friendly price. For details, see Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Data Backup.

CRISC-qualified Network Risk Mitigation
The CRISC program was established by ISACA to validate a consultant's skills to design, deploy, and support information system controls to reduce network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified consultant to assist your company to create and execute a workplace continuity or disaster recovery strategy that follows leading practices identified by CRISC and crafted to align with your company's risk appetite, business goals, and IT budget. To read more, visit CRISC-certified network risk management experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides specialized application consulting for a broad variety of small business software programs, Progent can assist clients to find complete IT solutions that optimize the productivity of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the services of certified engineers and specialists with experience in architecting, installing and maintaining infrastructure environments based on Cisco products. The extent of Progent's IT know-how and Progent's appreciation for the requirements of small and midsize companies make Progent a great partner for creating and maintaining a cost-effective, fault-tolerant network.

How to Contact Progent's Experts for Non-stop Network Services
In order to ask Progent about professional expertise for fault tolerant architecture, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.
















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