Rod Fournier and I had one of our geek talks recently, and it also came up in our clustering class in Denver. It also came up in a conference call last week. What does R2 offer when it comes to clustering?
The answer is, nothing.
Let me expand on this because it really isn’t true. While R2 offers absolutely nothing new for server clustering, it does offer many benefits that can improve the performance and reliability of clustering, and it also adds a new resource type.
So, let’s try this again. What does R2 offer when it comes to clustering?
Improved DFS. DFS improvements allow for scheduling of traffic, throttling of traffic, and utilizes compression across WAN links. Also, DFS offers the ability to store and forward changes in response to WAN failures. Since it is possible to run DFS roots on a server cluster, this can impact your current environment.
Improved Print Management Console. The new console provides a better view of the overall printer topology (yes, you can see all of the printers in the org from a single interface) and improvements in the MMC (now version 2.1) provides increased support for remote resources like printers. One feature, which I have not played with yet, is that administrators are supposed to be able to kill the spooler for a single printer without impacting all of the currently spooled print jobs for all other printers on the same server. This is great news to organizations that cluster critical printers.
NFS. With Services for Unix built into R2, now a new clustering resource is available; NFS.
File Server Resource Manager. The new file resource manager is going to make my life easier. I can see that now. With the FSRM, administrators will have more granular quota capabilities by managing per volume, per folder, or per share. Also added is a new file screening tool which allows administrators to disallow certain file types from being stored, such as mp3 files. To make the deal even better for FSRM, new reporting capabilities are built in. Not example a great deal for clustering overall, but when using R2 to cluster file servers, these benefits are pretty nice ones to have at your finger tips.
Storage Manager. The new storage manager allows administrators of R2 servers to manage and administer SANs. For example, with this tool, if the storage vendor supports Microsoft’s APIs, an administrator can perform discovery on devices, provision storage, allocate storage, and manage multi pathing configurations. Yes! Yes! Yes! No more calling the storage team for every little thing when it comes to configuring my LUNs for clustering. How nice this dream is…
OK, so, nothing in R2 directly impacts Windows Server 2003 server clustering, but the changes do make life better for those services and resources that are on the server cluster.