Microsoft has taken NT beyond the limits of two-server clustering, by demonstrating a four-node cluster of Windows 2000 servers.
At last week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (Winhec) the demo showed three clustered servers failing over to a fourth. This server was running with no applications loaded allowing it to take over all tasks of any of the other three servers.
A cluster is a group of servers connected together to create a single highly-available virtual system. If there is a failure with a cluster component, other servers are able to continue the tasks of the failed server. Ultimately clustering will increase system performance by sharing processor resources throughout the cluster.
Brian Valentine, manager of Microsoft's business and enterprise division, promised that four-way clustering will ship with Windows 2000 Datacenter, scheduled to come out 90 days after the basic Win 2000 release in October. However, no date was given for support of eight or 16 nodes, even though those were once part of the clustering strategy, codenamed Wolfpack.
Industry analysts gave the announcement a cautious reception. Clive Longbottom, strategy analyst at Strategy Partners International, said: "Wolfpack seems to be pretty much dead. Microsoft could do two-way clustering, but with four-way, it's been having problems."
"The company does not seem to understand clustering. For Microsoft it means users of the failed box need to reboot then log on to another server. Microsoft's compromise clustering does not cut it in the enterprise," he added.
The software giant originally sealed an exclusive deal with Digital to use VMS clustering in Wolfpack. However, it then started to work with Tandem to develop the technology. The latest stage in its plan has brought IBM into the fray.
IBM has claimed that it will offer eight-node clustering later this quarter in a project built around Wolfpack technology. The project, codenamed Cornhusker uses elements of RS/6000 SP server technology and will work in conjunction with Windows NT4, said Tikiri Wanduragala, IBM EMEA's Netfinity director.
For more stories see 14 April issue of Network News UK
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