For some organisations, uptime is a non-negotiable. High levels of disaster contingencies are required to ensure business-operation continues undisturbed while IT resolves whatever failure occurred in the back-end. High availability cluster technology has been around for a good few years and has taken some impressive leaps toward ensuring that 24/7 operations run at the elusive 99.999% uptime network operations centres all strive toward.

With the advent of computer virtualisation, high availability cluster implementations were given a boost in providing enterprises with the uptime they demand. Virtualisation of database and application servers in a high availability cluster has enabled IT departments to rapidly restore business-critical services to users with minimal to no disruption.

Virtual clustering allows IT ops to leverage the full use of server hardware and provision virtual machines as determined by business requirement.

With traditional clustering, applications were required to be “cluster aware”. This meant that applications needed to be able to call on a different hardware resource in the event of a failure. Virtualisation of entire application servers negated this requirement since the most VM implementations delegate application processes and calls transparently.

Virtual machines running different operating systems are able to share the same physical host; this allows much more flexibility to IT departments in leveraging their hardware. The combination of high availability clustering coupled with the flexibility of virtualisation is a very attractive solution to the challenge of maximum uptime.

Other benefits of high availability cluster technology include:

  • Dynamic shrinking or expansion of your environment as required.
  • Better utilisation of hardware.
  • Faster provisioning to the business.
  • Reduced carbon footprint.
  • Solid platform for your DRP.
  • Dynamic assignment of resources in a VM environment.
  • Align expenditure to business needs.
  • Easy addition of VMs to high availability cluster.

Cloud computing services usually implement some type of high availability cluster technology in their datacentres. With the cloud now becoming a more attractive option for medium and smaller businesses, they also stand to benefit from the superior redundancy offered by high availability clustering. A faulty motherboard in an application server is capable of bringing a company to a grinding halt – potentially costing the business thousands in revenue.

The benefits of high availability cluster technology teamed with developments like hosted cloud servers, virtualisation and the ever-increasing speed of the Internet are all great contributors to the accessibility of high availability clusters implementations to businesses.

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