What is Server Clustering

One computer can only be so powerful. Businesses in the modern era often have high processing and data usage demands that a single computer simply cannot handle. The obvious solution is to get another one, and then another one when that one is overloaded as well. A better solution is server clustering.

Server clustering is connecting multiple computers together to appear as one large server. A server cluster utilizes multiple servers in conjunction to deliver a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The various servers work in tandem to deliver faster processing and increased bandwidth.

There are two types of server clusters: symmetric clusters and asymmetric clusters.

Asymmetric clusters are chained one after the other with only one being accessed at a time. The subsequent servers are only used when the primary server is unavailable. Server clustering in this way is used mainly for read/write stores such as databases and messaging servers where the data must be available at all times but there is no great processing requirement.

Symmetric clusters are multiple servers working in tandem. This type of server clustering is used for environments with heavy processing. The different servers of the cluster will all have the same configuration and applications with each server designated the primary server for a different group of those applications. When one server becomes unavailable the processing duties of its applications is divided among the remaining servers. This allows for greater processing speed and keeps the entire system available.

The only real liability is complexity. A server cluster means more machines to maintain as well as additional design and code requirements to link the servers and keep them compatible. However, server clustering provides a strong reliable infrastructure as well as greater scalability and flexibility. A cluster is easier to grow and upgrade as demand increases and can be adapted to match multiple production demands simultaneously.