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 Windows Server 2016, Progent can provide 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 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016, Progent can help you plan and carry out a Windows Server 2012 R2 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.

Additional Non-stop Technologies Offered by Progent's Experts
Progent's Microsoft and Cisco consultants can assist your business to implement a sensible, fault-tolerant information network that resolves major challenges covering a broad range of infrastructure technologies and operations including:

Business Continuity Planning
Progent's business continuity consultants can show you how to create a disaster recovery plan in order to restore network operations in the event of an information system catastrophe. Progent can help you to develop a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy that incorporates periodic disaster recovery assessments and drills. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized consultants can also help you build an affordable, zero-downtime network solution that takes into account reliability issues involving a broad range of network technologies and processes. To find out more, see Business Continuity Consulting.

Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services
ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end service for reliable backup/disaster recovery. For a fixed monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup activities and enables fast restoration of critical files, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of component failures, software bugs, 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 Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local storage device, or to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can deliver world-class expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with government and industry regulatory requirements such as HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can help you to recover your critical data. Find out more about ProSight DPS Managed Backup.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity experts can assist your organization to design a DR system based on Microsoft's cloud-tested Failover Clustering technologies such as Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance storage clusters using commodity hardware, VM Load Balancing for enhancing the speed and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while reducing capital investment and operational expenses, and Cloud Witness for fast, economical creation of a failover cluster quorum arbitration point. For more information, visit Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Help.

Microsoft Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced world-class fault tolerance and system recovery to Microsoft's clustering solution. Windows Server 2012 R2 adds to this technology and provides important enhancements that offer more scalability, better disk storage uptime for server applications, streamlined management, faster automatic failover, and additional options for architecting failover clusters. For more information, go to Windows Server 2012 Clustering Integration.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is an extension to VMware vCenter that lets you define, automate and test a repeatable process for restoring services rapidly after a breakdown. SRM provides centrally controlled and automated recovery, application mobility, and non-disruptive site migration, failback and re-protect. SRM also enables transparent testing for site recovery, updates and patches and can generate audit reports to confirm complete service restoration, validate Service Level Agreements and prove compliance. Progent can provide the support of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to help your organization to plan, configure, test and maintain a disaster recovery solution 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 rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery (DR) between sites that are as far as 185 miles away from one another. Progent offers the skills of a certified NetApp MetroCluster expert who can assist you to plan, deploy, administer, update, test and repair a disaster recovery solution based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to select a topology for your MetroCluster deployment that meets your functional requirements and IT budget. Progent can make sure you adhere to leading practices for configuring your MetroCluster solution by delivering guidance with procedures like assigning shelf IDs, determining aggregate and plexes layout, provisioning volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, installing switches, designing a tiebreaker mechanism, setting up a TCP/IP configuration replication network, and testing your MetroCluster disaster recovery solution to prove adherence with industry standards and government mandates.

High Availability Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting covering network load balancing, load balanced applications, LAN/WAN backbone routing, and content delivery technology including F5 Networks 3DNS. Non-stop load balancing products for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Content Engine and LocalDirector 400 series, and F5 Networks 3-DNS. To find out more, visit Fault Tolerant Load Balancing.

Non-stop Data Centers
Progent's Data Center professionals can help you find fault-tolerant data centers that match the particular requirements of your company. Fault tolerant off-site data centers are especially attractive to small and mid-size companies because of their low cost and simplified logistics in comparison to taking a do-it-yourself strategy. Attempting to build an on-site data center with even a basic level of fault tolerance is too expensive for typical small businesses. Progent is ready to show you how to reap all the benefits of non-stop colocation facilities by providing a full range of consulting and maintenance services. For details, see Non-stop Colocation Expertise.

Failsafe Interoffice Networking
Progentís inter-site connection engineers can help organizations create non-stop multi-site connectivity by means of fully redundant networks with automatic failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE engineers can plan and deploy fault-tolerant Inter-office networks based on fault tolerant EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how multi-path connections and automatic fail-over can provide affordable 24x7 interoffice connectivity. To learn more, go to Failsafe Interoffice Connectivity.

High Availability Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-authorized IT experts can help you design an affordable, fault tolerant Internet configuration architecture that can deliver 24x7 Internet access through a wide array of high availability Internet access solutions including fault tolerant BGP, automatic fail-over, and multiple ISPs. Progent offers CCIE professionals to help you apply the most up-to-date technology for fault tolerant Internet connections to build a cost-effective, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to deliver fault tolerant Internet access. For more information, see 24x7 Internet Access Architecture.

Backup and Recovery Solutions Consulting Services
Progent offers economical remote access to IT engineers with expertise in a wide range of utilities and technologies that provide solutions for backing up Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux physical and virtual servers and workstations as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent offers expertise for leading data protection platforms such as Acronis, Symantec Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, HP Data Protector, Double-Take Backup, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Apple Time Machine, VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP), and Solaris FLARs. Progent's consultants can assist your company to implement, upgrade, or troubleshoot backup solutions for a variety of topologies such as local, edge to datacenter, cloud, or hybrid. To learn more, visit Backup and Restore Technology Consulting.

System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Backup and Recovery Consulting Services
Progent's expert Microsoft SCDPM consultants can assist you to develop an effective disaster recovery strategy, design an affordable high-availability IT architecture, deploy a System Center Data Protection Manager-based backup and recovery solution, comprehensively validate your system, train your IT personnel or local consultants how to manage System Center Data Protection Manager, or provide complete IT outsourcing including remote hosting of SCDPM machines in Progent's world-class data center facility. For details, visit System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) Expertise.

Barracuda Backup On-premises and Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is a low-cost, subscription-based backup/restore platform for small and mid-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup solution can include a custom-designed physical appliance built by Barracuda or a virtual appliance with similar functionality but which uses your existing storage hardware. Barracuda Backup safeguards critical business data produced locally, at one or more 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 appliance. Progent is a certified Barracuda partner and Progent's Barracuda Backup consulting experts can provide a broad range of consulting services to help you to plan, integrate, operate and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery solution built on Barracuda technology. For details, see Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consultants.

Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup software provides small and mid-size businesses a dependable and budget-friendly solution for backing up and restoring Hyper-V and VMware-powered virtual machines. Altaro VM Backup can be used for local, offsite, multi-site, and cloud environments and also enables cost-effective cloud backup to Microsoft Azure storage. Headline 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 minimizing your exposure to data loss, military-grade encryption, granular recovery capability for specific files and emails, extensive support for Windows Server Cluster Shared Volumes and VMware vCenter for handling large-scale environments, and support for Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service to back up online VMs with zero downtime. Progent is an Altaro partner and offers a broad array of consulting services to help you to design, deploy, manage and troubleshoot a backup and disaster recovery system powered by Altaro VM Backup. For details, visit Altaro VM Backup Consulting Services.

Consulting for Double-Take Software for Data Backup
Double-Take offers a family of products intended to provide small companies a variety of affordable solutions for backing up and recovering vital applications such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís disaster recovery planning consultants have extensive experience integrating Double-Take Software technology into small business information systems to create a high state of availability and disaster recovery readiness at a budget-friendly cost. To learn more, visit Consulting for Double-Take Software for Backup.

CRISC-Certified IT Risk Mitigation
The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) program was established by ISACA to verify an IT professional's skills to design, implement, and support information system controls to reduce network risk. Progent offers the expertise of a CRISC-certified engineer to help your company to develop and carry out a business continuity plan that follows leading practices identified by CRISC and geared to align with your company's risk appetite, business goals, and budgetary guidelines. For details, visit CRISC-Certified IT risk control experts.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning?
Since Progent is a Microsoft Partner and offers specialized application expertise for a wide range of business software programs, Progent can assist clients to find complete information technology solutions that maximize the business value of your IT network. As a Registered Partner with Cisco, Progent can provide the services of premier consultants and specialists with expertise in architecting, implementing and supporting infrastructure solutions based on Cisco products. The depth and breadth of Progent's technical know-how and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small companies make Progent the ideal resource for building and maintaining an affordable, dependable network.

How to Get in Touch with Progent's Consultants for Fault Tolerant System Support
In order to get in touch with Progent about technical expertise for high availability LAN design, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.



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