What is Fault Tolerance? High Availability & Printing
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Clustering: Microsoft’s High Availability Solution Microsoft deploys their own high availability program, or clustering service, known as the Microsoft Cluster Server, that provides server computers the ability to function in unison as a single computer cluster, providing greater availability for a wide range of services and applications, along minimized downtime. Applications and services operate on shared resources, and in the event of failure, shared resources are automatically transferred from a failing server to an equally configured functioning server. As Windows Server 2012 was released, Microsoft decided to continue the clustering service, however its implementation was restricted to vital tasks which were highly time sensitive. However, when it came to print, Microsoft decided that it was time to eliminate the clustering service offered for printing, and instead offer virtualized high availability support for printing from Server 2012 onwards! Virtualized High Availability: Microsoft Hyper-V Since the advent of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft assigned support for high availability printing to its Hyper-V technology. Hyper-V essentially virtualizes the print servers across two or more virtual machines, with the redundant machine functioning as a backup mechanism, being able to manage printing in a scenario where there is failure at the other machine. This print server virtualization approach to high availability creates a live instance of the virtual machine, running on another physical server. In case of a failure, the creation of a new secondary virtual machine is automatically triggered. One of the main concerns with this high availability setup is the downtime that occurs because of the failure and subsequent creation of another virtual machine. Next Steps: Organizations should assess their printing requirements and determine where they see themselves in terms of the high availability landscape. In environments where time is of the essence, no printing downtime can be tolerated whatsoever, and the company budget can accommodate larger spending on IT infrastructure, it may be a better option to adopt a completely fault tolerant printing system. In settings where enterprises can afford little downtime, high availability software may be the appropriate solution, offering close to one hundred percent availability.
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