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Unicast v Multicast in Windows 2008 NLB

Posted on 2009-04-04
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hi All

I am setting up a Windows 2008 server NLB, and there is the option of setting up the cluster operation mode in Unicast or Multicast.

This is slightly complicated by the fact that both the cluster nodes are virtual servers (Vmware ESX guests) running on the same ESX host, which itself is an HP Blade server connected to our Cisco switches via Virtual Connect modules!

Can anyone advise which option is best in this case - Unicast, Multicast or IGMP Multicast?

Much appreciated!
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Question by:kam_uk
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blissbear earned 500 total points
ID: 24069025
The question is best answered by another question.  How many machines are going to need the traffic?

If you only have 2 or 3 machines that will need the data then unicast is fine, as it targets the specified IP addresses directly and can easily migrate acrossed routers.

If you have many machines on the subnet that need access to the data, multicast is useful as it is picked up by every machine on the network and does not need to be sent multiple times, thus reducing the bandwidth overhead on your network.
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by:kumarnirmal
ID: 24070271
I agree with blissbear, the cluster operation mode depends on the type of Application which the Cluster hosts.
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by:kam_uk
ID: 24071237
This is for an IIS SMTP cluster, which will be used by about 100 machines?

What does unicast/multicast actually mean in layman's terms?
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by:blissbear
ID: 24075903
unicast is traffic that is sent to one IP address.  multicast is a special method of sending data on a LAN that allows you to send it to ALL of the addresses in a subnet.

So, for instance wanted to say, send a video stream to every machine on a LAN, you could do it using multicast technology and every machine would get the data and it would only have to be sent once, thus minimizing the bandwidth usage on the network.
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