Does windows 2008 r2 standard platform have server mirroring

Posted on 2011-10-27
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Back in my Novell days Novell had a feature SFT-III, where in two servers mirrored each other and if one server went down, the other server would take over, resulting in seamless uninterrupted service from the client perspective.  Does such a capability exist - either built-in or after market, for Windows 2008 R2 Standard platform?  Assume we'd put these two servers on the same subnet, in opposite ends of a building linked with Fiber Optic cabling.  The server is ordinary file/print, W2k8 R2 standard, an AD, no exchange or public iis servers.  They have an ms access database.  Potential for Sql Server and Sql anywhere (quickbooks), and sharepoint in the future.
Question by:eric3123
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    Windows architecture itself is distributed with Active Directory, where you assign FSMO roles to different servers such as the global catalog server and such.  Back in NT4 it used to be called a PDC and BDC and those terms still stick around, but they aren't accurate.

    Really what you need is application level fail over, and yes, SQL Server does provide mirroring as you described.  SQL Server mirroring will work with a with a 'witness' server which will notice if the server hosting SQL Server is not responsive on the SQL Server layer, and will automatically fail over to the mirrored database.

    There is a 'gotcha'.  You have 2 options for mirroring, synchronous and asynchronous.  Synchronous mirroring is dangerous, but guarantees that 100% of committed transactions are copied over first to the secondary mirrored copy, then they are applied to the primary server.  If something goes wrong with it committing the transaction on the mirrored copy, you will have major issues.  I recommend Asynchronous mirroring.  With Asynch, you will probably lose a small amount of transactions in flight to the mirrored copy but it will have 0 impact to production, worst case scenario you lose a few.  This is clearly not acceptable to a bank or something that sensitive, but in most cases, it's a fine solution.
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    It really depends on what you want to mirror.  You can use DFS to have file share access and in that case, yes, it would be pretty much as you describe - for file shares.  AD itself is is designed to be redundant so that would be covered.  DNS can have multiple entries in the NIC properties and you can use a split scope for DHCP.  So in all those respects, it can be near invisible if one server went down.

    Start talking about other functionality, like Exchange and SQL, and it gets FAR more complicated and expensive.  For systems with Exchange and SQL (and this isn't an all inclusive list), you could create a clustered VM system and install Windows on the cluster.  If either physical hardware failed, the other would take over.  That would probably be the most cost effective method to protect those products as VM clustering can be free and it's just a matter of getting some kind of shared storage for the VM - BUT that doesn't protect from a corruption or virus on the VM - in that case, it doesn't matter what node hosts the VM, you're down.

    You have other options, including a BDR (Backup Disaster Recovery Device) which essentially monitors the server and makes up-to-the minute (or second) copies so that if the system fails you can "flip a switch" and restore it in minutes to the BDR (this shouldn't generally be done automatically - else a reboot causes it to happen and recovery back to the original system is usually not "simple" by comparison to the fail-over.  (I have a HeroWare BDR at one client). You can get server mirroring software that does this like DoubleTake (the HeroWare BDR uses DoubleTake) but DoubleTake while the cheapest product I know of that does this, is NOT cheap.

    If you move up to Enterprise versions of Windows and those products, you can setup Windows Clusters.  The problem with Windows clusters is the software licenses needed to implement them.

    Author Comment

    Thanks everyone for the replies, I will give Heroware a look.

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    It had the most comprehensive answer.

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