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.
Other Zero-Downtime Technologies Supported by Progent's Experts
Progent's certified consultants can help your company to build a cost-effective, high-availability system that resolves major challenges encompassing a broad range of infrastructure solutions and processes including:
Business Continuity Planning
Progent's disaster recovery planning consultants can help you design a disaster recovery strategy so you can resume IT functionality in case of an IT network catastrophe. Progent can help you to define a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that incorporates periodic disaster recovery evaluations and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified engineers can also show you how to create an affordable, fault-tolerant system solution that addresses reliability issues involving a wide array of network technologies and processes. For details, go to Business Continuity Consulting Services.
Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent offer small and medium-sized businesses an affordable end-to-end service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly rate, ProSight DPS automates your backup activities and allows rapid restoration of vital data, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of hardware failures, software glitches, natural disasters, human error, or malicious attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery consultants can deliver advanced support to configure ProSight DPS to be compliant with government and industry regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI and, whenever needed, can assist you to restore your business-critical information. Learn more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup and Recovery.
Windows Server 2019 Fault-tolerant Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2019 offers important improvements in scale, performance, manageability, cybersecurity, app compatibility, Linux support, Kubernetes technology, and hybrid integration of local and cloud-hosted assets. Headline enhancements of Windows Server 2019 are Windows Admin Center for centralizing the management and monitoring of hybrid on-premises/cloud resources, System Insights for utilizing advance predictive intelligence to manage on-premises networks, Windows Defender ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) Exploit Guard for host-intrusion defense, container orchestration with Kubernetes, Cluster Sets for creating and administering massive high-availability scale-out clusters, and Storage Migration Service for streamlining the upgrade process from legacy versions of Windows Server. For more information, visit Microsoft Server 2019 High Availability Failover Clustering Consulting.
Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity consultants can help your organization to plan and deploy a DR system based on Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering tools including Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance network-attached storage using low-cost equipment, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for enhancing the speed and resilience of Failover Clusters while reducing capital investment and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical deployment of a stretch cluster quorum arbitration point. For more information, visit Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Help.
Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced enterprise-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's failover clustering solution. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this foundation and provides important new and enhanced features that offer increased expandability, non-stop storage uptime for server applications, streamlined management, faster automatic failover, and additional options for architecting clusters. For more information, visit Windows Server 2012 R2 Failover Clustering Migration and Support.
VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a component of VMware vCenter that lets you orchestrate, automate and verify a consistent process for recovering applications and services quickly following a breakdown. SRM supports centrally controlled and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, and transparent site relocation, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also supports transparent testing for disaster recovery, upgrades and fixes and can produce reports to confirm complete service recovery, validate Service Level Agreements and demonstrate DR compliance. Progent offers the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consulting expert to help your organization to plan, deploy, test and manage a DR solution based on VMware Site Recovery Manager.
NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses array-based storage clustering along with replication to provide rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery between sites located as far as 185 miles away from one another. Progent can provide the skills of a certified NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help your business to design, configure, administer, update, test and repair a disaster recovery solution built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to choose a topology for your MetroCluster deployment that meets your technical requirements and IT budget. Progent can make sure you follow best practices for installing your MetroCluster solution by delivering guidance with procedures like assigning shelf IDs, arranging aggregate and plexes layout, setting up volumes, setting up NetApp Snapshot, installing Cisco and Brocade switches, designing a tiebreaker, setting up a TCP/IP configuration replication network, and verifying your DR system to show compliance with information assurance standards and regulatory requirements.
Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent offers fault tolerant load balancing support covering system load balancing, load balanced applications, network backbone routing, and content delivery products such as F5 Networks 3DNS. Fault tolerant load balancing technologies for which Progent offers consulting services 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 Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For more information, go to Non-stop Load Balancing.
Non-stop Data Centers
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you select zero-downtime data centers that meet the specific requirements of your business. Fault tolerant Internet Data Centers are especially attractive to small and mid-size organizations due to of their low cost and convenience compared to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Attempting to design an in-house data center that offers even a basic level of fault tolerance is too costly for the majority of small companies. Progent is ready to show you how to get all the advantages of high-availability Internet data centers by providing a complete array of engineering and maintenance services. For more information, see Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers Consulting.
Non-stop Branch Office Connectivity
Progentís branch office connectivity engineers can help companies create non-stop multi-site connectivity by means of fully redundant system architectures featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE engineers can design and deploy high-availability Inter-office networks based on non-stop EIGRP routers or non-stop OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how multi-path connections and automatic fail-over can provide affordable 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To learn more, see High-Availability Interoffice Networking.
Non-stop Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-authorized network consultants can show you how to design an affordable, high availability Internet configuration solution that can achieve 24x7 Internet connectivity through a broad array of high availability Internet access solutions including high availability BGP, transparent fail-over, and multiple ISPs. Progent offers CCIE engineers to help you apply the most up-to-date technology for 24x7 Internet access to implement an affordable, completely redundant Internet interface with automatic failover and other features to create non-stop Internet availability. To find out more, see Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity Architecture.
Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting Experts
Progent can provide affordable remote access to IT engineers skilled in a broad range of products and services that deliver solutions for protecting Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX physical and virtual servers and desktops as well as laptops and handhelds. Progent offers help for all major backup platforms including Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, CrashPlan, Double-Take, Mozy, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and FLARs. Progent's consultants can help your company to install, upgrade, or troubleshoot backup solutions for a range of architectures including on-premises, remote, cloud, or hybrid. To learn more, visit Backup and Restore Solutions Expertise.
Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Restore Consulting Experts
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager engineers can help your company to develop an effective disaster recovery plan, design an affordable fault-tolerante IT infrastructure, install a System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and restore solution, thoroughly test your DPM system, educate your administrative personnel or local consultants how to maintain Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide complete IT outsourcing such as off-site housing of Microsoft SCDPM machines in Progent's secure data center facility. For details, go to System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting and Support Services.
Barracuda Backup Multi-site and Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is an affordable, subscription-based backup/restore service for small and medium-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup solution can incorporate a purpose-built hardware appliance manufactured by Barracuda or a virtual appliance with similar functionality but which uses your existing storage hardware. Barracuda Backup protects vital company data generated on-premises, at one or multiple remote sites, or in the cloud. For disaster preparedness, you can replicate data to the Barracuda Cloud, to Amazon Web Services (AWS), or to any site with a Barracuda Backup appliance. Progent is a Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts can provide a broad range of consulting support services to help your business to design, integrate, manage and repair a backup and disaster recovery solution built on Barracuda technology. For details, see Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consulting.
Altaro VM Backup Software for Backup and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup provides small businesses a reliable and budget-friendly platform for backing up and recovering Hyper-V and VMware-powered VMs. Altaro VM Backup can be used for local, remote, distributed, and cloud environments and also supports cost-effective backup to Microsoft Azure storage. Top features include state-of-the-art Augmented Inline Deduplication to reduce backup storage requirements, Continuous Data Protection with backup spacing as low as five minutes for minimizing your Recovery Point Objective, military-grade encryption, item-level restore options for individual files and emails, extensive support for Windows Cluster Shared Volumes and VMware vCenter for handling larger environments, and support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up live virtual machines with zero downtime. Progent is a certified Altaro partner and can provide a broad array of consulting services to assist you to plan, install, manage and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution based on Altaro VM Backup software. To learn more, visit Altaro VM Backup Consulting Services.
Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Data Backup and Recovery
Double-Take offers a selection of tools designed to provide small businesses a range of cost-effective solutions for replicating and restoring business-critical workloads such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning experts have in-depth backgrounds incorporating Double-Take Software technology into small company IT networks to create a high state of fault tolerance and business continuity capability at an affordable price. To learn more, visit Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Backup.
CRISC-Premier Network Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was established by ISACA in 2010 to verify a consultant's ability to plan, implement, and support information system controls to reduce risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to assist you to create and carry out a business continuity or disaster recovery plan based on industry best practices identified by CRISC and crafted to match your company's risk appetite, business goals, and IT budget. For details, visit CRISC-Premier IT risk mitigation experts.
Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Certified Partner and provides professional application consulting for a broad range of small business applications, Progent can help customers to arrive at comprehensive information technology solutions that substantially enhance the business value of your information system. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the expertise of certified consultants and specialists with experience in architecting, implementing and managing infrastructure solutions based on Cisco products. The extent of Progent's IT experience and Progent's appreciation for the requirements of small and midsize businesses make Progent the ideal resource for building and maintaining a cost-effective, high-availability information system.
How You Can Get in Touch with Progent's Consultants for High Availability System Services
If you wish to get in touch with Progent about consulting help for fault tolerant networking, phone 1-800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.