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 Solutions Provided by Progent
Progent's certified support professionals can assist your company to build a cost-effective, fault-tolerant information network that addresses key problems encompassing a broad array of infrastructure solutions and processes such as:
Workplace Recovery Planning
Progent's business continuity planning consultants can help you design a workplace recovery plan so you can resume network operations in the event of an information system disaster. Progent can help you to define a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that incorporates periodic disaster recovery assessments and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified professionals can also help you build an affordable, fault-tolerant system architecture that addresses availability issues involving a wide array of infrastructure technologies and processes. To read more, visit Business Continuity Consulting.
Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized businesses a low cost and fully managed service for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup processes and allows rapid restoration of critical data, applications and virtual machines that have become unavailable or damaged due to component breakdowns, software glitches, disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's cloud backup consultants can deliver advanced support to configure ProSight DPS to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards such as HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI and, when necessary, can assist you to recover your critical data. Find out more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Cloud Backup.
Microsoft Server 2019 High Availability Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2019 offers important enhancements in scale, performance, management, cybersecurity, app compatibility, Linux co-existence, container technology, and hybrid integration of on-premises and cloud-hosted assets. Headline enhancements of Windows Server 2019 are Windows Admin Center for unifying the management of hybrid on-premises/cloud deployments, System Insights for utilizing modern predictive analytics to manage local networks, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Exploit Guard for host-intrusion prevention, container networking using Kubernetes, Cluster Sets technology for building and administering large high-availability scale-out clusters, and Microsoft's Storage Migration Service for streamlining the migration from legacy editions of Windows Server. To learn more, visit Microsoft Server 2019 Fault-tolerant Failover Clustering Expertise.
Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery experts can help your organization to plan and deploy a disaster recovery solution based on Microsoft's most advanced Failover Clustering tools including Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance storage clusters using commodity hardware, VM Load Balancing for improving the speed and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while reducing TCO and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for easy, affordable deployment of a stretch cluster quorum witness. To read more, visit Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Consulting.
Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced world-class availability and system recovery to Microsoft's failover clustering platform. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and provides significant improvements offering increased extensibility, better storage availability for server applications, streamlined management, faster automatic failover, and more flexibility for architecting failover clusters. For more information, visit Windows Server 2012 Clustering Consulting 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 define, automate and test a consistent workflow for recovering services rapidly following an outage. Site Recovery Manager supports centrally managed and automated recovery, application mobility, and non-disruptive site migration, failback and site re-protect. SRM also supports non-disruptive testing for disaster recovery, updates and fixes and can produce reports to verify complete service restoration, validate SLAs and prove DR compliance. Progent offers the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to help you to design, deploy, test and administer a disaster recovery system based on VMware SRM.
NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a high-availability and disaster recovery software suite that combines failover storage clustering along with synchronous replication to deliver rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between sites that are up to 300km away from one another. Progent offers access to a NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help your business to design, deploy, administer, upgrade, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery solution based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can help you to select a topology for your MetroCluster deployment that aligns with your technical requirements and IT budget. Progent can ensure you adhere to leading practices for installing your MetroCluster solution by providing help with procedures like assigning disk pools and shelf IDs, determining plexes layout, provisioning NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, installing Cisco and Brocade switches, designing a tiebreaker, setting up a configuration replication network, and testing your MetroCluster DR system to prove adherence with information assurance standards and government mandates.
Network Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing support covering network load balancing, load balanced programs, network backbone routing, and content delivery 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 Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Distribution Manager and Cisco CDN Software, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To find out more, go to Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.
Fault Tolerant Internet Data Centers
Progent's Data Center professionals can show you how to select zero-downtime data centers that meet the particular requirements of your business. Fault tolerant off-site data centers are especially appealing to small and mid-size businesses due to of their affordability and simplified logistics compared to taking a do-it-yourself strategy. Attempting to design an on-site data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is too costly for most small companies. Progent can show you how to reap all the advantages of 24x7 colocation centers by providing a complete range of engineering and support services. To read more, see High-Availability Colocation Solutions.
High-Availability Branch Office Networking
Progentís multi-site connection engineers can help businesses create fault tolerant inter-site connectivity solutions via fully redundant networks featuring automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can design and implement ultra-reliable Inter-office connections based on fault tolerant EIGRP routers or non-stop OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connectivity and automatic fail-over can provide economical non-stop interoffice connectivity. For more information, visit Non-stop Interoffice Connectivity.
24x7 Internet Access
Progent's Cisco-authorized IT experts can show you how to build an economical, fault tolerant Internet configuration architecture that can achieve 24x7 Internet connectivity through a broad range of fault tolerant Internet access technologies including fault tolerant BGP, transparent fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent can provide CCIE professionals to show you how to apply the most up-to-date techniques for fault tolerant Internet connectivity to create an affordable, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver zero-downtime Internet availability. To learn more, go to High Availability Internet Connectivity Architecture.
Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Experts
Progent can provide affordable online access to engineers with expertise in a broad array of products and technologies that provide solutions for backing up Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux servers and desktops as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent offers help for all major data protection products including Acronis, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery, and FLARs. Progent can help your company to deploy, enhance, or troubleshoot data backup systems for a variety of environments such as local, remote, cloud, or a mix. To read more, go to Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Services.
System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Recovery Consulting Experts
Progent's certified System Center Data Protection Manager consultants can assist you to create an effective workplace recovery plan, design a cost-effective high-availability network infrastructure, install a SCDPM-based backup and restore system, thoroughly test your DPM system, train your administrative personnel or local service providers how to maintain Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide extensive information technology outsourcing such as remote housing of SCDPM machines in Progent's secure data center. To find out more, visit Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Expertise.
Barracuda Backup Local, Offsite and Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is a low-cost, subscription backup and disaster recovery service for small and medium-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup solution can include a custom-designed physical appliance manufactured by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with similar features but which utilizes your own storage hardware. Barracuda Backup protects critical business data produced on-premises, 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 physical or virtual Barracuda Backup appliance. Progent is a Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts can provide a broad range of consulting services to help you to design, integrate, manage and troubleshoot a BDR system built on Barracuda Backup. For additional information, visit Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consulting and management.
Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup provides small and mid-size organizations a reliable and budget-friendly solution for backing up and restoring Hyper-V and VMware-based VMs. Altaro VM Backup can be deployed in local, remote, multi-site, and cloud environments and also enables cost-effective backup to Azure Block Blob storage. Top features include industry-leading Augmented Inline Deduplication to cut backup storage needs, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) with backup intervals as little as five minutes for reducing your exposure to data loss, advanced encryption, granular recovery options for individual files and emails, extensive support for Windows Cluster Shared Volumes and vCenter for handling large-scale environments, and support for Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to back up live VMs with zero downtime. Progent is an Altaro partner and can provide a wide range of consulting services to assist you to design, install, manage and troubleshoot a backup/restore solution based on Altaro VM Backup. To read more, visit Altaro VM Backup Certified Consultants.
Consulting for Double-Take Solutions for Backup
Double-Take offers a family of tools designed to provide small and midsize businesses a range of affordable solutions for backing up and restoring vital applications including Exchange, SQL Server, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning experts have in-depth experience integrating Double-Take Software technology into small company IT systems to create an advanced state of fault tolerance and business continuity readiness at an affordable price. To find out more, go to Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup.
CRISC-Premier Network Risk Control
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was initiated by ISACA to verify a consultant's skills to design, deploy, and support IS control mechanisms to reduce risk. Progent can provide the services of a CRISC-certified consultant to help your company to develop and execute a business continuity or disaster recovery strategy based on leading practices promoted by CRISC and geared to align with your company's risk appetite, business objectives, and budgetary guidelines. For more information, visit CRISC-Certified IT risk control specialists.
Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Certified Partner and offers professional application support for a broad variety of business software programs, Progent can assist customers to arrive at efficient information technology solutions that maximize the productivity of your network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent can provide the support of certified consultants and specialists with expertise in designing, implementing and troubleshooting networking solutions based on Cisco products. The depth of Progent's technical experience and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small companies make Progent the ideal resource for building and running an affordable, dependable network.
How to Get in Touch with Progent's Consultants for Fault Tolerant Network Services
If you wish to contact Progent about engineering support for fault tolerant LAN design, call 1-800-993-9400 or see Contact Progent.