Print Clustering High Level Overview
Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Advanced Server and Datacenter Server and Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition, help you ensure that business-critical services are available when they’re needed. One technology that makes this possible is Windows Clustering[A1], which is used to keep applications running, even if a server fails.
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Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Advanced Server and Datacenter Server and Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition, help you ensure that business-critical services are available when they’re needed. One technology that makes this possible is Windows Clustering, which can be used to keep critical print servers functioning.
The Windows Server operating systems offer safeguards, such as the Cluster service, to help you increase availability of the critical services you need to run your business. Cluster service, described in more detail below, lets you connect two servers together so one can take over for the other in the event of a hardware or software failure.
The Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, Cluster service implementation lends itself well to ensuring availability of critical print servers. A print spooler service on a clustered print server may be hosted on any of the nodes (individual servers) on the Cluster server, and may be moved between nodes without affecting the client’s ability to print. The client doesn’t know which physical server it is connecting to, because connections are made to a virtual server. The failover between nodes is automatic in hardware or software failure cases; however, administrators can initiate a manual failover for maintenance purposes (such as during an operating system upgrade).
The bottom line is that Cluster service in Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition, helps you avoid print server downtime.
A server cluster is a set of independent servers (referred to as nodes) and connected storage devices that are managed together. They present a single view of the server to users, applications, and the network. Windows 2000 Advanced Server supports two-node clusters, and Datacenter Server supports four-node clusters. Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, supports two-node clusters, and Datacenter Edition supports four-node clusters.
Figure 1: Cluster service lets you connect two servers to help ensure site availability.
The servers do not have to be the same size or have the same configuration. For example, you can run exactly the same applications on both servers and have one of them idle, ready to pick up all operations and sustain high performance. Or you can have both servers online at the same time, with a variety of options for which applications are running on each server.
This flexible model allows you to configure Cluster service to provide better value and greater protection for your particular circumstances. To simplify configuration, Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, include Cluster Administrator. Using this facility, you can configure and manage the cluster from a central location—even from a remote location. After you’ve established a cluster, you can move workloads among the servers while performing maintenance and testing without interrupting users. This ability to move workloads back and forth also makes it possible to do rolling software upgrades without interruption.
The Microsoft Cluster Server implementation lends itself well to creating highly available print servers and includes spooler-specific failover support infrastructure to accurately determine when a server fault has occurred, and to seamlessly migrate the spooler service to an available node. Managing a clustered print spooler is similar to managing a non-clustered print spooler and effort has been made to provide the same set of interfaces for administrators. The one exception is in the management of drivers, because drivers must be loaded on each cluster node individually.
The Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Datacenter Server operating systems and Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition, operating systems provide a means of ensuring high availability of print servers in the event of hardware or software failure. Windows Clustering technology can help decrease printer interruptions and other causes of user downtime.
For more information about deploying Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 print clustering, see “Creating Highly Available Print Servers”[A2] at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/technologies/fileandprint/print/availableshare.asp
For a more information about print services in Windows Server 2003, read the Technical Overview of Windows Server 2003 Print Services at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/techinfo/overview/print.mspx.