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Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) is a group of independent servers that work together to increase application and service availability.What to know before implementing Failover ClusterWindows Server Failover Clustering is used on most of our production infrastructure. We use it for our General FS Storage, Scaleout FS Storage, and Hyper-V Clusters. Because it is used for our VM environment, it is used by the whole organization. It provide us High Availability on those services.,Live Migration of VMs between hosts. If you have sufficient network bandwidth, it is fast and I never had a failed live migration break the VM or kill it. Worst case is the live migration will fail (not enough RAM for example) but the VM always stayed up. Windows Server Failover Clustering enables Scaleout Storage, which is probably the coolest feature Microsoft has to offer at this moment. It gives you Active-Active SMB file shares which can now be used by most Microsoft Services like MS SQL, Hyper-V, etc. and clients if Windows 8+ Cluster Validation is really complete and easy to understand. The validation gives you comprehensive error messages that help to diagnose and fix rapidly to get your Failover Cluster running in no time.,Storage Pool / Virtual Disk management via the Failover cluster is confusing. You sometime needs to initiate the task from the Failover Cluster Manager (to have the right permissions) but it just use the new Server Manager Console. It is also possible to see information like number of columns of VD from the Failover Cluster Manager console, but you can't see the deduplication stats. It would be nice to at least have all the information available on both console or eliminate one of them. General FS switchover between nodes is slow and creates timeout when switching nodes. Failover Cluster doesn't seem to manage VD ownership that well. I even had a case where the VD was locked by a shutdowned node (bluescreen) which brought the whole cluster down. DLL locking also doesn't seem to be well handled. We had multiple cases where the Hyper-V cluster crashed because some waiting for restart updates locked dll.,9,Failover Cluster gives us the power to do updates or hardware upgrade / change without having to create an outage. Which permit us not to work night shifts. By creating one cluster with all Hyper-V servers, it enabled us to move VMs via live migration between host to balance RAM usage which was time consuming and took a lot of time over network before. It created some problems that caused us to have to investigate quite some time before finding the cause. We encountered dll locking that caused the Failover Cluster to force-restart a host. Logs are really not the strong point of Failover Cluster Manager, and even Microsoft Support wasn't able to help much. We had to find the problem ourself.,VMware vCenter Server and Compellent,Hyper-V, VMmanager, Microsoft ExchangeNot the most stable, but so usefulWe started using Failover Clustering a while ago with Windows 2008 Hyper-V. We had a lot of issues (Cluster crash) and upgraded to 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2, with the same issues. However, the cluster may not be a 100% stable, but it helps a lot regarding maintenance and upgrade. Instead of having to shutdown everything, we move the virtual machines from one host to another. When a VM job in the kernel, the full cluster goes down. We than started using Failover clustering for File Share and Scale-Out File-Share to host company files, and VMs (over SMB3). At some point we had one of the host that crashed, and when hard-rebooted, the other host when down because of the failover cluster. Also, when moving the FileShare roles from one host to the other, the disk 'time-out' for a while, that makes the file server very slow. It's not perfect, but it's very useful,Maintenance - You can move all the roles to the other host, and update/upgrade without interruption. Integrated - Based for many roles in Windows Server Easy to use - Not many options, but easy to figure out,Limited - Not much you can configure or tweak Unstable - Sometimes dies for no reason Cluster Validation - It never goes right. Always a lot of errors,10,Comes with Windows, almost Free Powerful when used with Hyper-V, Storage Spaces, etc Can build a HA Hyper-visors with Dedup/tier Storage,VMware, Nutanix and XenServer,Remote Desktop Manager, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, ownCloud, Slack, SysAid, Skype for Business, Skype, GoToAssist, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, MS SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, Sophos Endpoint Protection, Symantec Endpoint Protection, OneDrive, Cubby, Fortinet FortiGate, FortiMail, SnagitKeeping It Up - Windows Server Failover Clustering for HA ApplicationsWe use Windows Server Failover Clustering for two primary reasons: high availability and simplification of performing systems maintenance. Our failover clustering allows critical applications to continue with only a minor interruption in service if a needed system resource fails. It also allows systems administrators to failover an application to a passive node in order to perform scheduled or un-scheduled maintenance on the other node, and then fail back if necessary, all with minimal interruption of critical business applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and BMC's Control-M Workload Automation.,Windows Failover Clustering is well suited to keeping critical applications online with only a brief outage in services during the actual failover. In some cases, it will disconnect user applications during the failover. That isn't a good thing, but better than taking the entire application down for a longer period of time to shutdown one server and bring another online. Windows Failover Clustering can be easily configured to manage individual cluster resources. For example, we use BMC Control-M/Enterprise and Control-M Server. Our gateway resources for distributed systems and mainframe (z/Os), are managed well as individual resources within the cluster, allowing us to take a single resource offline when necessary, without having to take the entire cluster down. When used in combination with Microsoft PowerShell (now also available to Linux systems), it provide tremendous ability to monitor, query, report, configure and deploy systems in high availability (HA) infrastructures.,The disconnection of services or users -- brief though it may be -- is a drawback to a seamless failover. The failover process is generally quick, and in many cases invisible to the business end user community, but with the variety of applications and how they interact with Windows Failover Clustering, sometime there is a brief outage (seconds) that does NOT go unnoticed. Windows Server Failover Clustering in a Hyper-V environment can be a little tricky if the Hyper-V infrastructure is not properly configured at the cluster level for affinity. If you are considering using Windows Failover Clustering in combination with Hyper-V, be sure to set your affinity rules so that both nodes are never on the same host. Error reporting is quite detailed, if you know where to look. What appears in the Critical Events list for a cluster, and even the Windows Event Logs can lead one to think that Microsoft overlooked that critical area. You have to dig deeper into the Windows logs -- not just the usual three of Application, System and Security -- to get meaningful and helpful detailed error data.,10,Windows Server Failover Clustering has enabled us to provide better adherence to SLAs while still keeping company data resources properly protected. For example, patching the operating system, repairing corrupted antivirus definitions, and the like. Windows Server Failover Clustering also allows us to be more proactive in the area of system resources. If we see from our server monitoring that disk capacity is growing, we can take a node down, add resources to it (disk, CPU, memory) and then bring it back online -- all without the end users being aware that it was being done. In other words, no outage. SLAs remain high and IT management is happier. Using Windows Server Failover Clustering on Hyper-V hosts enabled us to SIGNIFICANTLY reduct the cost of licensing Microsoft SQL Server, and by that I mean over $100,000 annually.,Doubletake,Hyper-V, Atlassian Confluence, JIRA Service Desk, Symantec Endpoint Protection, Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server,,5,Microsoft SQL Server - ALL of our important databases run on Windows Server Failover Clustering in order to provide HA. BMC Control-M/Enterprise and Control-M/Server. This enterprise class workload automation product is extremely critical to our business. Windows Server Failover Clustering provides us with the ability to meet SLAs for this application.,We are investigating ways to eliminate the need to install individual instances of Control-M modules on client servers by having them linked back to clustered module servers.,10,Until you have the knowledge of how clustering works, and particularly how Windows clustering works, you will only end up banging your head. It is critical that a neophyte to Windows Server Failover Clustering learn and understand how it all works before embarking on a project as complicated as this can be.,Setting up the initial cluster can be very tricky. It isn't a case of just accepting the defaults and clicking on the "Next" button. You have to know what your doing. For example, you have to create a cluster resource with its own IP address separate from that of the nodes. IP for node 1. IP for node 2. IP for cluster. I would also suggest using a CNAME in DNS that points to the cluster name. That way, no matter which node is the active node you can still get to it.,8
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Windows Server Failover Clustering
10 Ratings
Score 9.3 out of 101
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Windows Server Failover Clustering Reviews

Windows Server Failover Clustering
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Score 9.3 out of 101
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Marc-Olivier Turgeon-Ferland profile photo
August 30, 2016

Windows Server Failover Clustering Review: "What to know before implementing Failover Cluster"

Score 9 out of 10
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Windows Server Failover Clustering is used on most of our production infrastructure. We use it for our General FS Storage, Scaleout FS Storage, and Hyper-V Clusters.

Because it is used for our VM environment, it is used by the whole organization.

It provide us High Availability on those services.
  • Live Migration of VMs between hosts. If you have sufficient network bandwidth, it is fast and I never had a failed live migration break the VM or kill it. Worst case is the live migration will fail (not enough RAM for example) but the VM always stayed up.
  • Windows Server Failover Clustering enables Scaleout Storage, which is probably the coolest feature Microsoft has to offer at this moment. It gives you Active-Active SMB file shares which can now be used by most Microsoft Services like MS SQL, Hyper-V, etc. and clients if Windows 8+
  • Cluster Validation is really complete and easy to understand. The validation gives you comprehensive error messages that help to diagnose and fix rapidly to get your Failover Cluster running in no time.
  • Storage Pool / Virtual Disk management via the Failover cluster is confusing. You sometime needs to initiate the task from the Failover Cluster Manager (to have the right permissions) but it just use the new Server Manager Console. It is also possible to see information like number of columns of VD from the Failover Cluster Manager console, but you can't see the deduplication stats. It would be nice to at least have all the information available on both console or eliminate one of them.
  • General FS switchover between nodes is slow and creates timeout when switching nodes. Failover Cluster doesn't seem to manage VD ownership that well. I even had a case where the VD was locked by a shutdowned node (bluescreen) which brought the whole cluster down.
  • DLL locking also doesn't seem to be well handled. We had multiple cases where the Hyper-V cluster crashed because some waiting for restart updates locked dll.
It is well suited for redundancy during Windows Updates, hardware maintenance, or any outage where you are present in case something goes wrong.

It is not well suited for redundancy during, power outage, bluescreen, hardware failures, etc. because I have seen Failover Cluster bring the whole cluster down on all those cases. It even causes more chances to bring down the services sometimes (dll locking, VD locking)
Read Marc-Olivier Turgeon-Ferland's full review
Tommy Boucher profile photo
August 30, 2016

Windows Server Failover Clustering Review: "Not the most stable, but so useful"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
We started using Failover Clustering a while ago with Windows 2008 Hyper-V. We had a lot of issues (Cluster crash) and upgraded to 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2, with the same issues. However, the cluster may not be a 100% stable, but it helps a lot regarding maintenance and upgrade. Instead of having to shutdown everything, we move the virtual machines from one host to another. When a VM job in the kernel, the full cluster goes down.

We than started using Failover clustering for File Share and Scale-Out File-Share to host company files, and VMs (over SMB3). At some point we had one of the host that crashed, and when hard-rebooted, the other host when down because of the failover cluster. Also, when moving the FileShare roles from one host to the other, the disk 'time-out' for a while, that makes the file server very slow.

It's not perfect, but it's very useful
  • Maintenance - You can move all the roles to the other host, and update/upgrade without interruption.
  • Integrated - Based for many roles in Windows Server
  • Easy to use - Not many options, but easy to figure out
  • Limited - Not much you can configure or tweak
  • Unstable - Sometimes dies for no reason
  • Cluster Validation - It never goes right. Always a lot of errors
This is very good to help your availability for your maintenance, but you should not based your full infrastructure on it. Make sure to backup, and monitor.
Read Tommy Boucher's full review
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September 07, 2016

Review: "Keeping It Up - Windows Server Failover Clustering for HA Applications"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
We use Windows Server Failover Clustering for two primary reasons: high availability and simplification of performing systems maintenance. Our failover clustering allows critical applications to continue with only a minor interruption in service if a needed system resource fails. It also allows systems administrators to failover an application to a passive node in order to perform scheduled or un-scheduled maintenance on the other node, and then fail back if necessary, all with minimal interruption of critical business applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and BMC's Control-M Workload Automation.
  • Windows Failover Clustering is well suited to keeping critical applications online with only a brief outage in services during the actual failover. In some cases, it will disconnect user applications during the failover. That isn't a good thing, but better than taking the entire application down for a longer period of time to shutdown one server and bring another online.
  • Windows Failover Clustering can be easily configured to manage individual cluster resources. For example, we use BMC Control-M/Enterprise and Control-M Server. Our gateway resources for distributed systems and mainframe (z/Os), are managed well as individual resources within the cluster, allowing us to take a single resource offline when necessary, without having to take the entire cluster down.
  • When used in combination with Microsoft PowerShell (now also available to Linux systems), it provide tremendous ability to monitor, query, report, configure and deploy systems in high availability (HA) infrastructures.
  • The disconnection of services or users -- brief though it may be -- is a drawback to a seamless failover. The failover process is generally quick, and in many cases invisible to the business end user community, but with the variety of applications and how they interact with Windows Failover Clustering, sometime there is a brief outage (seconds) that does NOT go unnoticed.
  • Windows Server Failover Clustering in a Hyper-V environment can be a little tricky if the Hyper-V infrastructure is not properly configured at the cluster level for affinity. If you are considering using Windows Failover Clustering in combination with Hyper-V, be sure to set your affinity rules so that both nodes are never on the same host.
  • Error reporting is quite detailed, if you know where to look. What appears in the Critical Events list for a cluster, and even the Windows Event Logs can lead one to think that Microsoft overlooked that critical area. You have to dig deeper into the Windows logs -- not just the usual three of Application, System and Security -- to get meaningful and helpful detailed error data.
Windows ServerFailover Clustering works very well for applications that can sustain a short disconnect when failing over. It works, and works well, in providing single-node applications HA, meaning an active/passive setup. It is not a load balancing solution. Use NLB for that. Another area that it works well is when used in combination with Hyper-V. We set our Hyper-V hosts up as clusters, and those clusters also host clusters for SQL Server and other enterprise class applications like BMC's Control-M/Enterprise and Control-M/Server.
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About Windows Server Failover Clustering

Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) is a group of independent servers that work together to increase application and service availability.

Windows Server Failover Clustering Technical Details

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