Clustering is a key technique to achieve maximum fault tolerance. A cluster is a collection of computer systems responsible for running a shared set of applications and services. The systems in the cluster are interconnected through hardware and software in such a way that in case any component in the cluster stops functioning, the workload will "failover" to, or be assumed by, another system in the cluster without a disruption of service.
Failover clustering clearly has an advantage in increasing network availability in the case of a hardware breakdown, but it also allows non-disruptive system maintenance for environments that have no time window when key applications such as email or web commerce can be taken offline without hurting business. For geographically dispersed environments, multi-site clustering provides insurance against natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes.
The Enterprise and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2008 included significant improvements in failover clustering such as easier deployment, management, and migration; enhanced support for multi-site clusters; improved security architecture and quorum models; stronger authentication and encryption; and more efficient tools for backup and recovery. Windows Server 2008 R2 offers even more advanced support for clustering through the addition of features that make clusters more secure, more available, and easier to manage. Major clustering improvements in Windows Server 2008 R2 include Live Migration support through Cluster Shared Volumes, enhanced support for IPsec security, and expanded cluster storage.
Progent offers a full range of Windows Server 2008 Server consulting services and Windows Server 2008 R2 expertise and can assist businesses of any size to maintain and troubleshoot failover clusters powered by Windows Server 2008. If you are considering an upgrade to a modern version of Windows Server, Progent can provide Windows Server 2019 migration expertise and Windows Server 2016 failover clustering consulting to maximize the availability and performance of your system.
New and Improved Features of Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering
The failover clustering capabilities incorporated into Microsoft Windows 2008 Server represents more than a decade of Microsoft's experience in developing clustering technology. The Enterprise and Datacenter Editions of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 offer a number of new clustering services and capabilities including:
More Convenient Management Interfaces
Windows Server 2008 includes Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0, a new easy-to-use interface for controlling network resources. The new Failover Cluster Administration Console is task oriented rather than cluster resource oriented. To make a file share highly available, for example, the administrator no longer has to create a group, a disk resource, an IP address resource, Network Name, configure IsAlive/LookAlive, configure preferred services, and set dependencies. Instead, the wizard simply asks for the Network Name. You do not necessarily need to assign an IP address because Windows Server 2008 failover clustering now supports DHCP.
Windows Server 2008 also supports remote management via the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT). You can manage multiple clusters throughout the organization from a single MMC. Windows Server 2008 Failover Clusters are also fully scriptable with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).
Built-in Cluster Validate Tool
Windows Server 2008 clustering includes a cluster Validate Tool, an expanded and integrated version of the ClusPrep tool released for Windows Server 2003 server clustering. As a part of the cluster configuration process, Validate runs a set of tests to determine whether the selected servers, cluster networks, and storage meet the requirements for failover clustering. Validate performs an inventory that includes BIOS information, operating systems, adapters, drivers and software updates; verifies cluster topology for redundancy; checks IP configuration details; and makes sure that storage can correctly handle simulated cluster actions. The Validate Tool helps prevents configuration errors, which is one of the most common problems encountered in failover clusters.
Support for Windows Server 2008 Server Core
Windows Server 2008 offers a Server Core installation option that supports failover clustering and provides a bare-bones environment for running distinct server roles. By limiting the services that need to be maintained and updated, this minimalist installation reduces support and management expense and enhances security by shrinking the server's attack surface. Server Core supports a variety of important roles including DHCP server, file services, print services, DNS server, Active Directory Domain Services, streaming media services, and Windows Server 2008 virtualization.
Better Storage and Backup Support
Improvements in storage and backup offer increased stability and availability for failover clusters. Support for both Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks allows the creation of disks greater than 2 terabytes. Built-in logic initiates self healing automatically as long as the system can find either the disk signature in the Master Boot Record or the SCSI inquiry page 0x83 data (VPD).
Support for Storage Area Networking (SAN) solutions is improved for storage hardware that supports SCSI-3 SPC3-compliant SCSI commands for persistent reservation/release. All multi-path solutions are Microsoft Multipath I/O (MPIO). The Device Specific Module (DSM) provided by the storage vendor is responsible for sending PR registration information down each path to the storage system. Closer integration with Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) makes the backup process easier. Failover clustering in Windows Server 2008 has its own VSS.
With Windows Server 2008, x64-based failover clusters support up to 16 nodes in a single cluster, as opposed to the maximum of 8 nodes in Windows Server 2003. Windows Server 2008 failover clusters also now support GPT disks, which use the GUID partition table (GPT) disk partitioning system. A GPT disk allows up to 128 primary partitions and a much larger volume size. In comparison, MBR disks can support up to four primary partitions and a volume size limit of up to 2 terabytes. For greater reliability, GPT disks offer replication and cyclical redundancy check (CRC) protection of the partition table. The increased number of nodes plus support for GPT disks dramatically extends the scalability of larger volumes in cluster environments.
A New Quorum Model
Windows Server 2008 introduces a new failover clustering quorum model that incorporates a combination of Microsoft's earlier shared disk and majority node set models. In Windows Server 2008 failover clustering there are now four ways to establish a quorum:
The quorum mechanism in Windows Server 2008 no longer requires a shared storage resource for the cluster to function. Quorum now refers to a number of votes which must equate to a majority of nodes. All nodes and disk resources have a vote. This avoids failure points in the old model, which required the disk to be available at all times so that disk failure meant cluster failure.
- No Majority - Disk Only (same as Windows Server 2003 shared disk quorum)
- Node Majority (same as the Windows Server 2003 majority node set)
- Node and Disk Majority
- Node and File Share Majority
An Improved Security Model
Windows Server 2008 failover clustering incorporates a new security model that enhances its security and dependability. Changes include:
- Elimination of the need for a domain user account for the Cluster Service Account (CSA)
- Better logging and event tracing
- Transition from unsecure datagram remote procedure call (RPC) communications to TCP-based RPC communications
- Default enabling Kerberos authentication on all cluster network name resources
- The ability to audit access to the cluster service via either the Failover Cluster Management snap-in or the cluster command-line interface
- Ability to secure Inter-Cluster communications.
New Networking Capabilities and More Flexible Dependencies
Windows Server 2008 failover clustering includes a new networking model. Major improvements include:
Administrators no longer have to stretch virtual local area networks across the wide area network to support geographically dispersed servers on different subnets. Failover cluster nodes can now be located on different subnets. Individual cluster nodes can be placed on separate, routed networks, which allows IP Address and Network Name resources to come online when services and applications fail over to remote nodes.
- Enhanced support for geographically distributed networks
- The ability to place cluster nodes on different networks
- The ability to use DHCP server to assign IP addresses to cluster interfaces
- Improvements in the cluster heartbeat mechanism
- Support for IPv6
Cluster IP address resources can now get their addressing from DHCP servers as well as from static entries. The cluster heartbeat mechanism has moved from a UDP broadcast health checking mechanism to a UDP unicast communication that it uses a Ping-like Request-Reply process. This allows better security and more reliable packet sequence numbering. Windows Server 2008 supports IPv6 IP Address resources and IPv4 IP Address resources either alone or in combination in a cluster. Clustering also supports 6-4 and Intra-site Automatic Tunneling Addressing Protocol (ISATAP).
Enhancements to Failover Clustering In Windows Server 2008 R2
Major enhancements to Failover Clustering available with Windows Server 2008 R2 include:
For more details about the improved Failover Clustering support provided by Windows Server 2008 R2, visit Progent's Consulting Services for Windows Server 2008 R2.
- Clustered Shared Volumes (CSV) with dynamic I/O redirection
- Geographically dispersed clustering for immunity from natural disasters
- Easier setup and migration through the new Best Practices Analyzer
- Redundant Quorum Resource to eliminate single-point failure for the cluster quorum
- Improved security through support for IPsec security between client and cluster nodes
- Supports for GPT disks that exceed 2 terabytes in capacity
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 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 failover clustering, set up pilot programs to validate performance and compatibility for your key workloads, develop and execute a cost-effective deployment plan, train your IT staff to manage your clustering environment, and provide ongoing consulting and technical support services remotely or at your site. Progent can also provide comprehensive Help Desk services.
Progent's service professionals can also help you migrate from Windows Server 2003 cluster nodes. This migration requires experience because these two types of nodes cannot share the same cluster, which eliminates a rolling migration.
If you currently have a clustering environment based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and are considering a move to Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 2016, Progent can help you plan and carry out a Windows Server 2019 failover clustering upgrade or create a Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery solution.
Progent's CISM, CISA, GIAC, CISSP, and CRISC 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 test business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
Fault Tolerant Technologies Offered by Progent's Experts
Progent's certified consultants can help you to create an efficient, zero-downtime IT architecture that addresses major problems covering a broad range of networking solutions and operations including:
Business Continuity Planning
Progent's disaster recovery planning professionals can help you create a workplace recovery plan in order to restore IT operations in the event of an IT network disaster. Progent can help you to develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that includes periodic disaster recovery assessments and drills. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized engineers can also show you how to create an affordable, high-availability system architecture that addresses availability issues covering a broad array of network technologies and processes. For details, visit Disaster Recovery Consulting and Support Services.
CRISC-Premier IT Risk Management
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was initiated by ISACA in 2010 to validate an IT professional's ability to plan, deploy, and maintain information system control mechanisms to mitigate risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified consultant to help your company to create and execute a workplace continuity or disaster recovery strategy that follows industry best practices identified by CRISC and geared to match your company's risk appetite, business goals, and IT budget. To find out more, visit CRISC-Premier IT risk management experts.
Microsoft Server 2019 Fault-tolerant Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2019 incorporated important enhancements in capacity, performance, manageability, cybersecurity, application compatibility, Linux co-existence, container networking, and hybrid integration of on-premises and cloud resources. Headline enhancements of Microsoft Windows Server 2019 include Windows Admin Center for centralizing the management and monitoring of hybrid on-premises/cloud-hosted resources, System Insights for utilizing modern predictive intelligence to manage local networks, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Exploit Guard for host-intrusion defense, container orchestration with Kubernetes, Cluster Sets for creating and managing large high-availability scale-out clusters, and Storage Migration Service for simplifying the upgrade process from outdated editions of Windows Server. For more information, visit Microsoft Windows Server 2019 High Availability Failover Clustering Consulting.
Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery experts can assist your organization to design a DR system built around Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering technologies such as Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class storage clusters using industry-standard hardware, VM Load Balancing for enhancing the performance and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while minimizing TCO and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for easy, affordable creation of a failover cluster quorum arbitration point. For details, go to Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Expertise.
VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is an extension to VMware vCenter that lets you define, automate and test a repeatable runbook for recovering services rapidly following a breakdown. Site Recovery Manager supports centrally controlled and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, plus non-intrusive site relocation, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also supports non-intrusive testing for site recovery, upgrades and patches and can produce reports to confirm full service recovery, validate Service Level Agreements and prove compliance. Progent offers the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to assist you to plan, configure, test and administer a disaster recovery solution powered by VMware SRM.
NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses array-based storage clustering along with synchronous replication to provide fast, zero RPO disaster recovery between datacenters that are as far as 300km apart from each other. Progent offers online or on-premises access to a NetApp MetroCluster expert who can assist your business to plan, deploy, manage, update, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery system based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to select a topology for your MetroCluster environment that aligns with your technical needs and IT budget. Progent can make sure you adhere to leading practices for installing your MetroCluster environment by providing help with tasks like assigning disk pools, arranging aggregate and plexes layout, setting up FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, provisioning Cisco and Brocade switches, implementing a tiebreaker, designing a configuration replication network, and verifying your MetroCluster DR system to show adherence with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
High Availability Load Balancing
Progent provides high availability load balancing consulting covering network load balancing, load balanced programs, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content dispatching products such as F5 Networks 3DNS. High availability load balancing technologies for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Microsoft Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Presentation Server, Cisco Content Services Switch, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and ACNS, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. To read more, go to Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.
Fault Tolerant Data Centers
Progent's Data Center consultants can help you find high availability data centers that match the particular requirements of your business. Fault tolerant co-location sites are especially attractive to small and mid-size companies due to of their low cost and convenience compared to pursuing a do-it-yourself approach. Trying to build an on-site data center that offers even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small companies. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the benefits of non-stop Internet data centers by providing a complete range of engineering and support services. For more information, visit High-Availability Colocation Consulting.
Fault Tolerant Inter-office Connectivity
Progentís branch office connectivity professionals can help organizations create non-stop branch office connections via fully redundant networks with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can design and implement fault-tolerant Inter-office connections supported by fault tolerant EIGRP routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how redundant connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide affordable 24x7 interoffice networking. To find out more, go to 24x7 Interoffice Networking.
High Availability Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified network consultants can help you design an affordable, high availability Internet connection solution that can achieve non-stop Internet connectivity through a wide range of fault tolerant Internet network technologies including non-stop BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent can provide Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to show you how to utilize the most advanced technology for fault tolerant Internet connectivity to create a cost-effective, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to create fault tolerant Internet access. For more information, visit Non-stop Internet Access Solutions.
Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Experts
Progent can provide economical online support from IT engineers with expertise in a wide array of utilities and technologies that provide solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux servers and desktops as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent offers help for leading backup platforms including Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take Backup, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Apple Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and FLARs. Progent can assist you to implement, upgrade, or maintain backup/restore systems for a variety of topologies such as on-premises, remote, cloud-based, or hybrid. To read more, go to Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Services.
Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Restore Consulting and Support Services
Progent's certified Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager consultants can assist you to develop a practical business continuity plan, implement a cost-effective fault-tolerante IT infrastructure, configure a Microsoft SCDPM-powered backup and restore solution, comprehensively validate your DPM system, train your IT personnel or local service providers how to maintain Microsoft SCDPM, or provide extensive information technology outsourcing including off-site hosting of System Center Data Protection Manager machines in Progent's data center. To find out more, visit System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Consulting and Support Services.
Barracuda Backup Local, Offsite and Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is an affordable, subscription-based backup/restore platform for small and mid-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup solution can include a custom-designed hardware storage device built by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with comparable features but which utilizes your existing storage hardware. Barracuda Backup protects critical business data generated locally, at one or multiple remote sites, or in the cloud. For disaster protection, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon Web Services (AWS), or to any location with a Barracuda appliance. Progent is a Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts offer a broad range of consulting support services to help you to plan, configure, operate and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution built on Barracuda technology. For more information, go to Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consultants.
ProSight DPS Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Backup and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup provides small organizations a reliable and affordable solution for backing up and recovering Hyper-V and VMware-based VMs. Altaro VM Backup can be deployed in on-premises, remote, multi-site, and cloud-hosted architectures and also enables low-cost cloud backup to Microsoft Azure storage. Progent is an Altaro partner and can provide a wide range of online or onsite consulting services to assist you to plan, install, manage and troubleshoot a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery system based on Altaro VM Backup software. With ProSight Data Protection Services Altaro VM Backup, Progent offers a fully managed backup/restore service powered by on Altaro VM Backup. For more information, visit Altaro VM Backup consulting services.
ProSight DPS Altaro O365 Backup Solutions
Microsoft 365 (formerly named Office 365) offers rudimentary archiving but does not have integrated support for crucial data protection services like Exchange backups or long-term point-in-time recovery for OneDrive or SharePoint Online. Altaro O365 Backup provides a feature-rich platform for programmable backup and quick recovery of all your organization's O365 mail, Teams Chats, SharePoint sites, and OneDrive data. Progent is an Altaro partner and offers ProSight Data Protection Services O365 Backup to deliver comprehensive managed services for Altaro's O365 data protection suite. ProSight Data Protection Services O365 provides a low-cost backup-as-a-service (BaaS) alternative that defends O365 apps against data loss or corruption resulting from user or software mistakes, malicious sabotage, and malware attacks such as ransomware. To read more, visit ProSight DPS Altaro O365 Backup solutions.
Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO
ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO offer small and medium-sized organizations a low cost end-to-end service for secure backup/disaster recovery. Available at a fixed monthly rate, ProSight DPS ECHO automates your backup activities and allow fast restoration of critical files, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or damaged due to hardware failures, software bugs, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS ECHO can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local storage device, or to both. Progent's BDR consultants can provide world-class support to set up ProSight DPS ECHO to be compliant with government and industry regulatory standards like HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI and, when needed, can help you to recover your business-critical information. Find out more about ProSight DPS ECHO managed cloud backup.
ProSight Data Protection Services 360 Backup Solutions
Progent's data protection experts can assist your company to create, deploy and troubleshoot a backup/restore plan built around MSP360 software. MSP360 enables file or image-based backup/restore for virtual machines and physical computers, supports all popular public clouds, and allows businesses to create a data protection solution with a low RTO and a defined Recovery Point Objective (RPO). With ProSight Data Protection Services 360 Backup, Progent can provide end-to-end monitoring and management of your backup environment to prevent data loss resulting from user miscues, computer glitches, malicious users, and malware attacks like ransomware. To read more, go to ProSight Data Protection Services 360 Backup solutions.
Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup
Double-Take Software publishes a family of products intended to deliver small companies a variety of cost-effective alternatives for replicating and restoring business-critical workloads such as Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning consultants have in-depth backgrounds incorporating Double-Take Software products into small business IT systems to create an advanced level of availability and business continuity readiness at an affordable price. For more information, see Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.
Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Partner and offers specialized application expertise for a broad range of small business applications, Progent is able to help clients to find complete IT solutions that substantially enhance the business value of your network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the services of premier consultants and specialists with experience in designing, configuring and maintaining infrastructure solutions based on Cisco products. The depth and breadth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's appreciation for the requirements of small businesses make Progent a great resource for creating and running a cost-effective, fault-tolerant information system.
How to Access Progent's Engineers for Help with High Availability Networks
If you wish to ask Progent about consulting support for high availability LAN design, phone 1-800-993-9400 or refer to Contact Progent.