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Introduction (Using Clustering for a Highly Available Web Site: An Example)

Updated: September 1, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

High availability, high reliability and high performance are important objectives for Web sites. This white paper describes in detail how Microsoft uses Network Load Balancing to achieve these objectives for its own Web site. You can use information in this document to help you achieve similar goals for your own Web site.

This white paper discusses the Network Load Balancing (NLB) clusters that support the Web site. It provides detailed information about hardware, software, and Network Load Balancing configurations, and also reasons why the configurations were chosen. This white paper includes a list of best practices for using Network Load Balancing, as well as information about several operational procedures that Microsoft uses to help make its Web site highly reliable and highly available. Web site administrators can use Microsoft.coms implementation as an example for their own Network Load Balancing implementation.

This is the first of two white papers that describe the use of clustering at Microsoft. The second white paper, which is called Using Clustering with Exchange 2003: An Example, describes how the internal IT department at Microsoft has implemented server clusters to manage their Exchange servers. This white paper is available at the Microsoft Web site (

Focus: Network Load Balancing Clusters

The primary focus of this white paper is on the Network Load Balancing clusters that the Web site uses. Other aspects of, such as the domain structure and the Active Directory configuration, are only described to the extent that they affect the clustering implementations.

Use This White Paper as an Example Only

The information in this white paper about the Network Load Balancing clusters that are used by the Web site is presented as an example. The actual steps and configuration for computers and devices in your own network will be different. This document shows only the configuration that specifically relates to the objectives described later in this document. This document does not cover other procedures and devices that are required in a production environment.

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