Windows Server 2008 Fault Tolerant Clustering ConsultingClustering 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.

Greater Expandability
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:

  • 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
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.

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:

  • 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
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.

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:

  • 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
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.

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 Non-stop Technologies Offered by Progent
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified consulting experts can help your business to build a sensible, high-availability IT architecture that addresses major issues covering a wide range of networking technologies and operations such as:

Workplace Recovery Planning
Progent's disaster recovery planning professionals can show you how to create a disaster recovery strategy so you can resume IT functionality in the event of an IT network disaster. Progent can assist you to create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that incorporates periodic disaster recovery assessments and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized professionals can also show you how to build an affordable, high-availability system solution that takes into account availability issues covering a wide range of network technologies and processes. To find out more, go to Business Continuity Consulting Services.

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent provide small and mid-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery. Available at a low monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup processes and enables rapid restoration of vital files, apps and virtual machines that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of component breakdowns, software bugs, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's cloud backup specialists can provide advanced expertise to set up ProSight DPS to be compliant with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can assist you to recover your business-critical data. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Backup.

Windows Server 2019 High Availability Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2019 offers significant enhancements in scale, performance, manageability, cybersecurity, app compatibility, Linux support, Kubernetes technology, and hybrid integration of local and cloud-hosted resources. Top new features of Windows Server 2019 are Windows Admin Center for unifying the management of hybrid local/cloud deployments, System Insights for utilizing advance predictive analytics to manage on-premises networks, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Exploit Guard for host-intrusion defense, container networking with Kubernetes, Cluster Sets for deploying and administering large high-availability scale-out clusters, and Microsoft's Storage Migration Service for simplifying the upgrade process from legacy versions of Windows Server. For more information, visit Microsoft Server 2019 High Availability Failover Clustering Support.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity consultants can help your organization to design a disaster recovery system built around Microsoft's cloud-tested Failover Clustering technologies such as Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for enterprise-class network-attached storage using commodity equipment, VM Load Balancing for improving the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while reducing capital investment and operational expenses, and Cloud Witness for easy, economical creation of a failover cluster quorum witness. For more information, go to Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Help.

Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced enterprise-class fault tolerance and system recovery to Microsoft's clustering solution. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this foundation and delivers important enhancements that offer increased extensibility, better storage uptime for server applications, streamlined management, faster failover, and more options for architecting failover clusters. For more information, go to Windows Server 2012 Clustering Consulting Services.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is a component of VMware vCenter that allows you to specify, automate and test a repeatable runbook for recovering services quickly after a breakdown. Site Recovery Manager supports centrally managed and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, and non-intrusive site migration, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also allows non-disruptive testing for disaster recovery, updates and patches and can generate reports to verify complete service restoration, validate SLAs and demonstrate disaster recovery compliance. Progent can provide the skills of a VCDX certified VMware Site Recovery Manager consulting expert to help you to design, configure, test and administer a disaster recovery system based on VMware Site Recovery Manager.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Technology
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery platform that combines array-based storage clustering with continual replication to deliver fast, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between datacenters that are up to 185 miles (300km) away from one another. Progent can provide online or on-premises access to a certified NetApp MetroCluster expert who can help your business to design, deploy, administer, update, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery system based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to choose an architecture for your MetroCluster deployment that meets your technical requirements and IT budget. Progent can make sure you adhere to best practices for installing your MetroCluster environment by delivering guidance with tasks like assigning shelf IDs, arranging plexes layout, provisioning FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, provisioning Cisco and Brocade switches, implementing a tiebreaker mechanism, designing a configuration replication network between your peered clusters, and verifying your disaster recovery solution to show adherence with industry standards and regulatory mandates.

High Availability Load Balancing
Progent provides high availability load balancing support covering system load balancing, load balanced programs, network backbone routing, and content delivery technology such as F5 Networks 3DNS. Fault tolerant load balancing technologies for which Progent offers 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 Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. To read more, visit Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.

Zero Downtime Colocation
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you find zero-downtime data centers that match the specific requirements of your company. High availability off-site data centers are particularly attractive to small and mid-size companies because of their affordability and simplified logistics compared to pursuing a do-it-yourself approach. Trying to design an on-site data center with even a minimum level of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for most small businesses. Progent can help you get all the advantages of non-stop Internet data centers by offering a complete range of consulting and maintenance services. For more information, see High-Availability Colocation Expertise.

High-Availability Inter-office Networking
Progentís interoffice network infrastructure engineers can help organizations achieve zero-downtime multi-site connectivity solutions by means of fully redundant networks with transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can plan and implement high-availability Inter-office connections based on fault tolerant EIGRP routers or non-stop OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connectivity and transparent fail-over can provide economical 24x7 interoffice networking. To find out more, go to Non-stop Interoffice Networking.

Non-stop Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-certified network engineers can help you create an affordable, fault tolerant Internet configuration solution that can deliver non-stop Internet access through a broad range of fault tolerant Internet access technologies including non-stop BGP, automatic fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent can provide Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to show you how to apply the most advanced technology for high availability Internet connectivity to build an affordable, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver zero-downtime Internet connections. For details, go to 24x7 Internet Connectivity Architecture.

Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Services
Progent can provide affordable online access to engineers skilled in a wide array of utilities and technologies that provide solutions for protecting Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux physical and virtual servers and desktops as well as laptops and handhelds. Progent offers help for leading backup products such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan PRO, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect, Apple Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and FLARs. Progent's consultants can help you to implement, upgrade, or maintain backup/restore systems for a range of architectures such as local, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or hybrid. For details, see Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Services.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Data Recovery Consultants
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager engineers can help your company to create a practical business continuity plan, design an affordable fault-tolerante IT infrastructure, deploy a Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and recovery system, thoroughly test your system, educate your IT staff or regular service providers how to maintain SCDPM, or provide complete IT support outsourcing such as remote hosting of SCDPM machines in Progent's world-class data center. To find out more, visit System Center Data Protection Manager Consulting.

Barracuda Backup Multi-site and Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is an affordable, subscription-based backup/restore service for small and mid-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup solution can include a purpose-built hardware appliance built by Barracuda or a virtual appliance with comparable functionality but which utilizes your existing storage hardware. Barracuda Backup protects critical company data generated on-premises, at one or multiple remote locations, 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 certified Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consultants can provide a broad array of consulting support services to help you to design, integrate, operate and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery system based on Barracuda technology. For details, go to Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consulting and management.

Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Backup and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup software provides small and mid-size businesses a dependable and affordable solution for backing up and recovering Hyper-V and VMware-based virtual machines. Altaro VM Backup can be used for local, offsite, distributed, and cloud environments and also supports low-cost backup to Azure Block Blob storage. Headline capabilities include state-of-the-art Augmented Inline Deduplication to cut backup storage requirements, Continuous Data Protection with backup intervals as low as five minutes for minimizing your Recovery Point Objective (RPO), advanced encryption, item-level restore options for specific files and emails, extensive support for Windows Server Cluster Shared Volumes and for VMware vCenter for handling larger environments, and support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up online VMs with zero downtime. Progent is an Altaro partner and offers a broad range of consulting services to help you to plan, install, manage and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery system powered by Altaro VM Backup software. For more information, visit Altaro VM Backup Consulting Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup/Restore
Double-Take Software offers a family of products intended to provide small businesses a variety of affordable alternatives for backing up and recovering vital workloads including Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Blackberry, and Microsoft SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have extensive experience incorporating Double-Take Software products into small business IT systems to achieve an advanced level of fault tolerance and business continuity readiness at a budget-friendly cost. To find out more, see Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-Certified IT Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification program was established by ISACA in 2010 to validate an IT professional's skills to design, implement, and maintain IS controls to mitigate network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to help you to develop and carry out a workplace continuity or disaster recovery strategy that follows leading practices promoted by CRISC and geared to match your company's risk appetite, business goals, and budgetary guidelines. To find out more, visit CRISC-Premier network risk control specialists.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Partner and offers professional application support for a wide range of small business applications, Progent can assist clients to arrive at complete IT solutions that maximize the business value of your IT network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of premier engineers and specialists with experience in designing, deploying and managing networking solutions based on Cisco technology. The broad scope of Progent's IT know-how and Progent's appreciation for the requirements of small businesses make Progent the perfect partner for building and maintaining an affordable, high-availability network.

How to Contact Progent's Engineers for High Availability Computing Services
To get in touch with Progent about consulting expertise for high availability IT design, phone 1-800-993-9400 or see Contact Progent.

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