Microsoft Touts Partner Program To Simplify Clustering

Microsoft today promoted its Failover Clustering Configuration Program (FCCP) for Windows Server 2008 products. FCCP is a partner-supported offering that promises to make it easier for organizations to support uptime for "critical line-of-business services" via the use of failover clustering techniques.

With failover clustering, servers are linked to safeguard against unplanned downtimes. The system is designed so that one node will carry the workload should another node fail.

Under the program, Microsoft works with hardware vendors to validate hardware compatibility with Windows Server 2008. Current FCCP partners include IBM, computer maker Dell and storage vendors EMC and NetApp, among others. To be part of the program, hardware manufacturers need to submit their products for extensive testing.

Microsoft initiated FCCP because it found a high rate of setup problems, even when the configuration work was performed by experts.

"We discovered that more than 55 percent of misconfigured clusters were the result of IT pro error," explained Ward Ralston, group product manager for Windows Server, in a prepared statement.

Hardware compatibility aspects, including networking and storage equipment, can complicate cluster configurations, according to Ralston.

"That's why we instituted the FCCP -- so you can eliminate that last level of complexity by ordering a pre-configured and tested clustering configuration from one of our partners," he stated.

Microsoft says that FCCP helps make failover clustering technology accessible to organizations with "fewer than 250 computers." The program is for users of Windows Server 2008 versions, including Datacenter, Enterprise and Itanium-based editions.

Those using earlier Windows Server 2003 products can check hardware compatibility via the Cluster Hardware Compatibility List, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft now provides a validation wizard for Windows Server 2008 that will test all of a system's nodes prior to setup. A demonstration of the wizard can be found here (Windows Media video).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.