Whether you are configuring Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003, you are referring to different forms of Windows Clustering. With any version of a stand-alone Windows server ”unless you employ RAID for the system disks ”clustering or using third-party offerings is the only way to ensure that another server will start to perform the work if the server and its applications fail. Even if you configure a duplicate server with the same software and operating system options, you would need a process to switch to that server. This is where a server cluster and Network Load Balancing might be able to assist you in increasing availability to your Windows installation.
In addition to clustering, there are other availability and reliability features built into Windows that are better covered in other documents. Here is a list of topics you can use to research more information.
The following were introduced with Windows 2000 Server to increase availability and reliability:
Reboots minimized for some configuration tasks
Slipstreaming of service packs and chaining of hotfixes
Application failure recovery with IIS restart and out of process application protection
Safe mode boot
System Recovery Console
The following were introduced with Windows Server 2003 to increase availability and reliability:
Tools to measure and audit, including the already mentioned Shutdown Tracker, enhanced logging, and system tracing
The overall hardware and software installation has been improved, including:
Driver install improvements
New driver preference using .inf files
Hotplug Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)
Side-by-side assembly install
Hot add RAM
Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) Backups and enhanced backup and defragment APIs
Fault tolerance system support through things like machine check architecture for 64-bit, multipath I/O and Load Balancing and Failover (LBFO)
Better recovery through processes like autosystem recovery, last known good enhancements, up to an eight-node server cluster, geographically dispersed clusters, Majority Node Set (MNS) clusters, process cycling for IIS out-of-proc applications, COM+ object recycling, and service restarts
Maintenance tasks have also been improved, such as hot patch operating system hotfixes, no reboot hotfixes, and update improvements
Testing and qualification
Driver Verifier and App Verifier
Device, system, and domain controller Hardware Compatibility Tests (HCTs) and qualifications improved
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For basic information about server clusters and Network Load Balancing, see Windows Clustering in Chapter 3, An Introduction to Microsoft High Availability Technologies.
You cannot combine a server cluster and Network Load Balancing on the same physical hardware. They can coexist on the same network or domain, but they cannot be configured to run together on Windows installation.