Load balance / failover server 2003 across WAN

Hey Pros...

I'm way outta my element on this one.  

We have a new solution being setup and surprisingly enough the consultants doing the implementation are asking ME to look into this part.  We have 5 sites, WAN infrastructure will be 1.5Mbps T's in a fully meshed MPLS cloud (later this year).  Each site houses a Server 2003 R2 x64 Enterprise host for an Oracle based front-end application to SAP.   The servers are brand spankin' new HP DL380 G5's.

What they want to do is provide failover for a site from a primary server at the facility to a server at one of the other sites in our organization.   The downtime is to be scheduled in order to bring down the Oracle database and do a full offline backup of the server data, (backup software is BAckup Exec 12 with Oracle agents installed).

WAN infrastructure, at the moment, is a mass of branch-office VPN tunnels in a star configuration terminated at the home office on a Nortel Extranet 1510 switch (and yes, that IS damned old).  MPLS will be all Cisco hardware and managed by the ISP.

I've read through some of the technet docs for configuring network load balancing and IP load balancing but I'm not sure if I'm in the right ball park, so any advice will be welcomed.
GPskinzhutAsked:
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plug1Commented:
Im not 100% sure what you need to achieve here? If the main site fails then you are to restore the data to a remote site and redirect the traffic to there? Is this what you mean?
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GPskinzhutAuthor Commented:
G'mornin' Plug

At the moment, just traffic redirection whenever a server goes down.  I guess I put in more info than I needed to.  
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plug1Commented:
It depends how clients are connecting to the application server, If they connect by server name then its easy, you can configure DNS to use 2 seperate IP addresses for the server (1 being the remote server) and set it up to use "Round Robin" that way if the first server is unavailable they will connect to the remote server.

Obviosly you can discount the round robin in your scenario and simply manually change the IP address in the DNS server.

If its connecting via IP address then its a hell of a lot more complex..
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GPskinzhutAuthor Commented:
Clients are supposed to be using DNS to connect so that's a good thing thus far.

This is something that would have to be completely automatic.  The operation is 24/7 manufacturing and the basis for doing this failover is so that we can bring down an application server over the weekend to do an offline backup, at which time clients would be redirected to a failover server.  So manually changing anything isn't an option.  
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plug1Commented:
Ok, well if you configure the DNS round robin correctly then it will be. When they try to connect to the failed server it will return as a null entry and move on to the next IP address. Job Done.
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GPskinzhutAuthor Commented:
Sounds all kinds of easy, which concerns and delights me all at the same time.

Let me get some feedback from the team and see if that will fit the bill.
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plug1Commented:
lol, good luck..
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GPskinzhutAuthor Commented:
well they certainly like the idea.

I read through some of RFC's and round-robin DNS lookups return different IP addresses per query, which would indeed provide load-balancing, but not failover, unless I'm missing something in the translation...
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plug1Commented:
Your right, you would need to write a script ot do it, but failing that you can spend less than $100 and use this...

http://www.simplefailover.com/default.aspx
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GPskinzhutAuthor Commented:
Heya plug

sorry, I was out for a couple days and swamped the last couple.  I'll d/l that and see if it'll do what they'd like it to do and post back.

Thanks!
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plug1Commented:
No worries mate.
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GPskinzhutAuthor Commented:
Looks like I can probably get that to do what they've asked, still some stuff to figure out as far as getting clients to connect back to the primary server once it comes back online but that's gonna be more for them to figure out I think.

thanks again
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Windows Server 2003

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