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.
Zero-Downtime Technologies Offered by Progent's Experts
Progent's certified consultants can help you to build an affordable, fault-tolerant IT architecture that addresses critical issues encompassing a broad array of infrastructure solutions and operations including:
Business Continuity Planning
Progent's business continuity engineers can help you design a disaster recovery plan in order to restore network functionality in case of an information network catastrophe. Progent can help you to define a complete disaster recovery plan that incorporates scheduled disaster recovery evaluations and testing. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-authorized consultants can also show you how to build an affordable, non-stop system architecture that takes into account availability issues covering a broad array of network technologies and processes. For more information, see Workplace Recovery Expertise.
CRISC-Certified Network Risk Control
The CRISC program was established by ISACA in 2010 to verify an IT professional's skills to plan, deploy, and maintain information system controls to reduce risk. Progent offers the services of a CRISC-certified engineer to assist your company to create and carry out a workplace continuity plan that follows industry best practices identified by CRISC and crafted to align with your organization's risk tolerance, business objectives, and budgetary guidelines. For details, see CRISC-Certified IT risk management experts.
Microsoft Server 2019 Fault-tolerant Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2019 features significant enhancements in scale, performance, manageability, cybersecurity, app compatibility, Linux co-existence, Kubernetes technology, and hybrid combinations of local and cloud resources. Headline new features of Windows Server 2019 include Windows Admin Center for unifying the management and monitoring of hybrid local/cloud-hosted deployments, System Insights for taking advantage of modern predictive intelligence to manage local networks, Windows Defender ATP Exploit Guard for host-intrusion defense, container networking with Kubernetes, Cluster Sets for building and administering massive non-stop scale-out clusters, and Storage Migration Service for simplifying the upgrade process from outdated versions of Windows Server. For more information, go to Windows Server 2019 High Availability Failover Clustering Help.
Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery consultants can assist your organization to design a DR system built around Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering tools including Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade for non-intrusive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for zero-data-loss Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance network-attached storage using commodity hardware, VM Load Balancing for improving the performance and resilience of Failover Clusters while reducing capital investment and operational expenses, and Cloud Witness for easy, affordable deployment of a stretch cluster quorum arbitration point. For more information, visit Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Help.
VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager is an extension to VMware vCenter that lets you orchestrate, automate and test a consistent runbook for restoring services quickly following a breakdown. SRM provides centrally controlled and automated recovery, application mobility, and transparent site relocation, failback and re-protect. Site Recovery Manager also supports non-disruptive testing for site recovery, upgrades and fixes and can produce reports to verify full service restoration, validate SLAs and demonstrate compliance. Progent can provide the skills of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consultant to help you to design, configure, test and administer a disaster recovery system powered by VMware Site Recovery Manager.
NetApp MetroCluster Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses array-based storage clustering with replication to provide rapid, zero RPO disaster recovery between datacenters that are as far as 185 miles (300km) away from one another. Progent offers the skills of a NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help you to plan, deploy, administer, update, test and troubleshoot a disaster recovery system built around NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to choose a topology for your MetroCluster deployment that meets your functional requirements and budget. Progent can make sure you follow best practices for configuring your MetroCluster environment by providing help with tasks like assigning shelf IDs, determining aggregate layout, provisioning FlexVol volumes, setting up NetApp Snapshot, provisioning Cisco and Brocade switches, designing a tiebreaker mechanism, setting up a configuration replication network between your peered clusters, and verifying your MetroCluster DR system to verify compliance with industry standards and government mandates.
Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent provides fault tolerant load balancing consulting that addresses network load balancing, load balanced applications, network infrastructure routing, and content delivery products such as F5 Networks 3DNS. High availability load balancing solutions for which Progent offers consulting expertise include Microsoft Windows 2003 and 2008 Server Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Access Gateway, Cisco CSS, Cisco Distributed Director and ACNS, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. To read more, visit High Availability Load Balancing.
Progent's Data Center consultants can help you find zero-downtime data centers that meet the specific needs of your business. High availability collocation sites are especially appealing to small and mid-size businesses due to of their low cost and convenience in comparison to taking a do-it-yourself approach. Trying to build an in-house data center with even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is financially prohibitive for typical small organizations. Progent can help you reap all the advantages of non-stop data centers by offering a full array of engineering and support services. To read more, go to High-Availability Data Centers Expertise.
Failsafe Branch Office Networking
Progent’s multi-site connection professionals can help companies achieve fault tolerant interoffice connectivity by means of redundant system architectures featuring transparent failover. Progent’s Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can design and deploy ultra-reliable Inter-office networks supported by non-stop EIGRP network routers or fault tolerant OSPF configurations of Cisco routers. Progent can demonstrate how multi-path connectivity and automatic fail-over offers economical non-stop interoffice networking. For details, go to Non-stop Interoffice Networking.
Non-stop Internet Connections
Progent's Cisco-certified IT experts can show you how to build an economical, fault tolerant Internet configuration architecture that can achieve 24x7 Internet access via a wide range of fault tolerant Internet access technologies including high availability BGP, automatic fail-over, and redundant ISPs. Progent offers CCIE engineers to show you how to apply the most up-to-date techniques for 24x7 Internet access to build an affordable, fully redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other capabilities to create zero-downtime Internet connections. To learn more, go to 24x7 Internet Access Solutions.
Backup and Restore Technology Consultants
Progent offers affordable remote access to consultants with expertise in a wide array of utilities and services that provide solutions for backing up Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux physical and virtual servers and desktops as well as notebooks and smartphones. Progent can provide consulting support for leading data protection products such as Acronis, Backup Exec, BackupAssist, HP Data Protector, Double-Take Software, MozyPro, Retrospect, Time Machine, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and FLARs. Progent's consultants can assist your company to implement, upgrade, or maintain backup systems for a variety of architectures including local, edge to datacenter, cloud, or a mix. To learn more, go to Backup and Restore Technology Consulting Services.
Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager Backup and Restore Consulting Services
Progent's certified Microsoft SCDPM support professionals can help you to create a practical business continuity strategy, implement a cost-effective high-availability IT infrastructure, deploy a Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager-powered backup and recovery solution, thoroughly test your system, train your administrative personnel or local consultants how to manage Microsoft SCDPM, or provide extensive IT outsourcing including off-site hosting of virtual or physical SCDPM machines in Progent's world-class data center facility. For details, visit Microsoft SCDPM Consulting Services.
Barracuda Backup Local, Offsite and Cloud Data Backup and Disaster Recovery
Barracuda Backup is a low-cost, subscription backup and disaster recovery platform for small and mid-size businesses. A Barracuda Backup deployment can include a purpose-built hardware appliance manufactured by Barracuda or a software-based appliance with comparable features but which utilizes your existing storage infrastructure. Barracuda Backup protects critical company data generated on-premises, at one or multiple remote locations, or in the cloud. For disaster recovery, 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 wide array of consulting support services to help you to design, configure, operate and repair a backup and disaster recovery system based on Barracuda technology. For additional information, go to Barracuda Backup and disaster recovery consultants.
ProSight DPS Altaro VM Backup Solutions for Backup and Disaster Recovery
Altaro VM Backup software provides small organizations a dependable and budget-friendly platform for backing up and restoring Hyper-V and VMware-powered virtual machines (VMs). Altaro VM Backup can be used for on-premises, offsite, distributed, and cloud architectures and also supports cost-effective cloud backup to Microsoft Azure Block Blob storage. Progent is a certified Altaro partner and offers a wide array of online or onsite services to assist you to design, install, optimize and debug a modern backup/restore solution based on Altaro VM Backup. With ProSight Data Protection Services Altaro VM Backup, Progent offers a fully managed backup/recovery service based on Altaro VM Backup software. To find out more, go to Altaro VM Backup certified consultants.
ProSight DPS Altaro Office 365 Backup Services
Office 365 provides rudimentary archiving but does not have native support for vital data protection services such as Exchange Online backups or greater than 30-day point-in-time recovery for OneDrive or SharePoint Online. Altaro O365 Total Backup delivers a feature-rich BDR solution for automatic backup and quick recovery of all your company's Office 365 mailboxes, Microsoft Teams Chats, SharePoint sites, and OneDrive files. Progent is a certified Altaro partner and has designed ProSight Data Protection Services Office 365 Backup to deliver comprehensive managed services for Altaro's O365 back/restore product. ProSight Data Protection Services O365 provides a budget-friendly backup-as-a-service alternative that guards O365 apps against data loss or corruption caused by human or software mistakes, malevolent corruption, and malware assaults such as ransomware. To learn more, go to ProSight Data Protection Services Altaro Office 365 Backup solutions.
Fully Managed Cloud Backup: ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO
ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO from Progent provide small and medium-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed solution for secure backup/disaster recovery. For a low monthly price, ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO automates and monitors your backup activities and enable rapid recovery of critical files, applications and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to hardware failures, software glitches, disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can provide world-class support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO to be compliant with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can help you to recover your business-critical data. Read more about ProSight Data Protection Services ECHO managed cloud backup and recovery.
ProSight DPS 360 Backup Solutions
Progent can help your company to create, implement and troubleshoot a backup/restore plan based on MSP360 technology. MSP360 enables file/folder or image backup/restore for virtual machines and physical machines, works with all popular public clouds, and permits businesses to build a data protection solution with a minimum Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and a granular Recovery Point Objective (RPO). With ProSight Data Protection Services 360 Backup, Progent can provide end-to-end monitoring and remote management of your backup system to prevent data loss resulting from human mistakes, system errors, ill-intentioned insiders, and malware attacks such as ransomware. For details, see ProSight DPS 360 Backup services.
Consulting for Double-Take Software for Backup/Restore
Double-Take offers a family of tools intended to provide small and midsize businesses a range of affordable solutions for replicating and recovering business-critical applications such as Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Blackberry, and Microsoft Office SharePoint. Progent’s business continuity planning experts have extensive backgrounds integrating Double-Take products into small business information systems to achieve an advanced level of availability and business continuity readiness at an affordable cost. To find out more, see Consulting for Double-Take Software for Backup.
Why Pick Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Partner and provides specialized application expertise for a broad range of business applications, Progent can assist clients to arrive at comprehensive IT solutions that maximize the business value of your network. As a Registered Partner for Cisco, Progent offers the support of premier consultants and specialists with experience in designing, implementing and managing networking environments based on Cisco technology. The broad scope of Progent's IT experience and Progent's familiarity with the requirements of small companies make Progent the ideal partner for building and running a cost-effective, dependable network.
How You Can Access Progent's Experts for Help with Fault Tolerant Computing
If you wish to ask Progent about technical support for high availability LAN design, phone 1-800-993-9400 or refer to Contact Progent.