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Use Virtual Clustering to Deliver High-Availability Applications

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The traditional approach to providing high availability applications to users is to make the application “cluster aware,” that is, capable of calling resources from more than one server, falling back to a secondary server if the production server is offline for some reason. There are two challenges to keep in mind when building a physical cluster that virtualization minimize or eliminates as a concern:

  1. The application may require changes to make it cluster aware.
  2. The cost of additional hardware required to implement a cluster, possibly setting up a cluster for each application, will impact the profitability of the project.

For many organizations, the hardware costs alone make them look for alternatives to running a dedicated cluster in their data center.

Virtualization provides a solution to the hardware cost problem. A virtualized cluster utilizes all the hardware available, unlike a traditional cluster in which 50 percent of the hardware could be idle for most of the time. Moreover, the applications running in a virtual machine do not need to be made cluster aware, because Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V delegates application processes and calls transparently. Any existing application can run as a clustered application in the Hyper-V environment.

Full hardware utilization and no application changes translate into lower capital expenditures on hardware, making more of your resources available to provide better performance to users at all times, not only in a failover situation. The resources on this page have been collected to help explain the concepts and implementation of this type of solution.

Understanding High Availability Technology
An introduction to failover clusters explains what makes an application highly available.

Microsoft High Availability Overview
Download a white paper that explains the hardware-, application- and operating system-level benefits and considerations of high availability clustering.

Achieve High Availability with Virtualization
This TechNet Magazine guide to implementation prerequisites will get you ready to deploy.

High Availability  and Disaster Recovery  Considerations
This TechEd presentation walks through virtualization and disaster recovery scenarios and considerations.

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