The new Windows Server 2019 release brings advanced capabilities to Microsoft’s availability and Disaster Recovery suite via Windows Failover Clustering (WFC). With a heavy focus on hybrid cloud and hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI), WFC offers server-level protection for planned and unplanned downtime helping admins keep their mission-critical services online.
Let’s take a look at the top new features introduced with Windows Server 2019 Failover Clustering, their benefits and deployment requirements.
Windows Server 2019 Failover Clustering: Top Features
1. Cluster Sets
Cluster sets are groups of multiple failover clusters: compute, storage and hyperconverged. The primary purpose of a cluster set is to allow live migration of VMs between member clusters, which in turn, enables virtual machine fluidity. This cloud scale-out technology considerably increases the number of servers in a single software-defined datacenter (SDDC) and allows systems to hyperscale without any downtime. Watch this video for a brief overview of cluster sets and their capabilities:
2. Azure Awareness
In the past, Windows Server required load balancing configuration to create clusters in Azure. The newest version removed this additional step by allowing failover clusters to detect when they are running inside Azure VMs. Clusters running in Azure can now automatically move virtual machines between hosts and proactively avoid downtime.
3. Cross-Domain Migration
Previous versions of Windows Server did not support mixed-domain clusters or moving clusters between domains. The cluster had to be destroyed and recreated which resulted in significant downtime. Now, failover clusters can dynamically move from one Active Directory domain to another. This simplifies domain consolidation and allows hardware partners to create clusters and add them to the customer’s domains at a later time.
4. Self-Healing Failover Clusters
Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2019 brings enhanced logic to auto-detect nodes that are unable to communicate with the rest of the cluster and attempt to repair and return them to cluster membership. This new self-healing technology adds high availability to the cluster network. Issues can now be automatically detected and repaired without needing an admin’s attention.
5. USB Witness
To ensure high availability and avoid system corruption, Windows Failover Clustering allows only one instance of a workload to run in a cluster, even when the nodes aren’t in direct communication with each other. The system uses a voting process to determine if the majority, or quorum of cluster nodes, can see a consistent view of the cluster state to operate. In the latest release, the quorum can be determined by attaching a USB drive to a network switch.
Windows Network Requirements for Failover Clusters
If you are creating a failover cluster, the cluster servers must support the hardware requirements for the Hyper-V role. Hyper-V requires a 64-bit processor that includes hardware-assisted virtualization and hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP):
- Hardware-assisted virtualization is available in processors that include a virtualization option - specifically, processors with Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology.
- Hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP) must be available and enabled. Specifically, you must enable Intel XD bit (execute disable bit) or AMD NX bit (no execute bit).
When deploying a storage area network (SAN) with a failover cluster, you will need to confirm with manufacturers and vendors that all the drivers, firmware and software used for storage are compatible with failover clusters found in your current version of Windows Server.
Since servers from different clusters are not allowed to access the same storage devices, make sure that a LUN used for one set of clusters is isolated from all other servers through masking or zoning. To ensure the highest level of redundancy and storage availability, you can deploy failover clusters with multiple host bus adapters by using multipath I/O software or load balancing.
Generally, a Hyper-V failover cluster can have a maximum of 64 nodes and you can have a maximum of 8,000 virtual machines per cluster for server computer virtualization, with the maximum of 1,024 VMs on a single node, providing that the server hardware has the resources to support them.
Failover Cluster Management Is Easy with 5nine Cloud Manager and 5nine Cloud Manager Free
Failover clusters can be managed by using the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in, Windows PowerShell or 5nine Cloud Manager (the easiest and fastest of the three). Each of these tools has its benefits, but only 5nine Cloud Manager provides a single pane of glass solution for centrally managing Hyper-V.
If you are looking for an easy way to utilize failover clustering and backup your virtual machines with a fast and reliable system, 5nine Cloud Manager is for you. This simple platform delivers FREE Hyper-V Management for 1 host and up to 5 VMs and FREE Azure Management for 1 subscription and up to 5 VMs. Download a 14-day trial OR the Free version of 5nine Cloud Manager FREE and get started in under 15 minutes.
Maria is a strategic marketer who brings over a decade of digital marketing experience to 5nine. As a software industry insider, she brings a fresh voice and insight into content development projects at 5nine. Maria enjoys making complex topics accessible and engaging to various audiences by addressing their pain points and tailoring solutions that help IT professionals optimize and streamline their business processes.