What are the benefits of Clustering?


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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Question What are the benefits of Clustering?

    Clustering as understood by me is the grouping of two or more servers so that their combined power can be utilized for enhanced performance as well as for providing better data storage. I want to have a comparison between the advantages and disadvantages of clustering, so as to decide whether to use clustering in the enterprise applications or not. Anyhelp in this regard will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    For enterprise applications better computational power and extendibility while not affecting the performance can cause a lot of apprehension. Clustering resolves the problem by providing quick data access for better performance. This is achieved by supporting replicating the data on various nodes of the clusters, hence ensuring no data loss if a node dies or by partitioning data on multiple nodes offering scalability in terms of greater data storage. Clustering leans on the idea of location transparency and load balancing so that any service running in a cluster would be in the same view for all cluster nodes.

  3. #3
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    The enterprise applications usually process heavy number of requests at any given time, so one machine does not suffice in such situation. You have to deploy your application in the server-farm consisting of multiple machines to share the load.

    But the problem is with the load balancing mechanism. When the first request comes we may point it to any server that has lesser number of tasks, but from there, we won't know which server will take the second request. One of the solutions is to use “Sticky Sessions” so that you can force the second request back to the same server. But this prevents you from uniform distribution of load.

    You also face problems while using Sessions in a server-farm environment. Sessions are server specific; so if one server has a session, the other servers won't have the same information. So, you will lost the session variable if the request is routed to a different server. One possible solution is to have a central machine that handles session variables, but the drawback involved is the single point of failure. Yet another possibility is to use commercial products like NCache from www.alachisoft.com for overcoming the issues involved in clustered Session Management.

    In short, the benefits of clustering are many such as increased availability, scalability, better data management as well as fast access to data. But there are also issues involved (some discussed above) while managing data in the cluster.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2006
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    Clustering is concered primarily with high availiabity(HA) of the services running on the servers. You do have 2 primary forms of clustering.

    1) Regular clustering the software is running on one machine and if something wrong is detected then it is stopped on that machine and started on the other. This is used in stateful services such as databases.
    2) Load balancing systems which are kind of like what you are talking about where all machines are running the service and users are directed to different machines. This is only usful for stateless services such as web servers. This can also be done using hardware which are called network traffic managers or hardware load balancing.

    If you are talking about databases and other services written they can use regular clustering in an active/active mode where all services can receive data and then perform locking of data as needed.

    For the combining of machines looking into Grid computing.

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