Real-time replication for Windows clusters
Cluster copy taken to the hills
News June 10th, 2008
By Roger Howorth

Today real time replication specialist Neverfail began beta testing of ClusterProtector, which provides real-time data replication over a WAN for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server systems running under Microsoft Cluster Server.

Andrew Barnes, Neverfail senior vice president of corporate development, told The Hypervisor that the disaster recovery suite should be ready for production environments by July. “Clustering is often used for high availability, but it falls down dealing with natural or man-made disasters such as a datacentre flood or SAN failure. ClusterProtector lets the cluster do what it does best and replicates the cluster off site so if the cluster should fail users can continue to access their email or database without interruption,” Barnes said.

ClusterProtector is not part of the cluster, but provides another instance of the database or mail system. If the cluster fails the software updates the appropriate DNS records so users don’t need to update their systems. There could be a small delay before users’ PCs pick up the new DNS details. “We force that DNS update out, but the delay depends on the configuration, although it’s normally a matter of minutes. Most people would use Outlook to view their email and might see a message saying it is attempting to reconnect to the Exchange server, but most people wouldn’t recognise that the failover had taken place,” Barnes added.

Neverfail has not disclosed the price at this stage, although Barnes said it would be in line with the rest of the Neverfail product line. ClusterProtector will come as part of Neverfail 5.4, which is a forthcoming version that will support Windows Server 2008 and is currently also being tested with Microsoft Hyper-V.

Many Neverfail customers host their primary systems on physical servers and keep their replica systems on a secondary server running VMware ESX Server. Hyper-V should provide a lower cost option for those customers. Hyper-V is also expected to drive adoption of server virtualisation because people will get their hands on it without a separate acquisition cycle, and so could begin experimenting without first needing to go through an acquisition cycle.

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