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#BackToBasics – Clustered Servers

technical question and answerSo you know the basics of a single server solution but what about when things get a bit more technical? We take a look at what exactly a clustered server is and how can it benefit your business?

Defining a basic server is quite simple. It’s a computer that provides a service to other computers, living up to its name quite aptly. When you hear terms such as “file servers”, this means that the computer in question is enabled for file sharing while “print servers” are computers enabled for printing.

So, what does the term “clustered servers” mean?

Well, it is, quite literally, a cluster or group or servers working together to deliver high performance and availability. A cluster would normally consist of two or more connected servers acting as one virtual resource and is very reliable. Should, for example, a single server fail, the risk of downtime is reduced because the other servers in the cluster will pick up the malfunctioning server’s tasks and data.

A clustered server could be described as a super computer comprising a team of other interconnected computers, designed to carry out tasks simultaneously. There are different types of cluster available – you may have heard of load balancing, for example – but whatever the unique functionality, their ultimate goal is to increase efficiency through maintaining uptime and/or providing more power.

Why choose clustered servers?

The high availability and scalability of clusters mean that they are attractive to growing businesses needing to cater for increasing requirements. However, as clustered servers involve more of hardware and the solution needs to be carefully designed to join the servers, there are cost increases compared to simple, single server solutions. Additionally, not all types of applications and servers are supported by clustering and some cluster designs are too complex and expensive to implement so there are restrictions with this solution.

Benefits

Companies choose clustered servers for business continuity. It is comforting to know that your business critical network applications are not wholly dependent on just one server. In a cluster, availability can be maintained even if one component of the cluster were to fail.

Clustered servers are strong, scalable and powerful; providing around-the-clock availability and allowing users to increase the number of servers or virtual machines to accommodate business growth. Shared resources reduce the demand on a single server, giving an improved level of performance and, should you need to shut a server down for maintenance, the others will handle its load without interruption to users. Load balancing directs requests to available servers only, guaranteeing high availability. Clustering is available on a variety of databases including SQL and MySQL; another benefit of this kind of solution.

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