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How do I ensure high availability of data on two physical servers in the event one were to fail?

I have two Dell T710s, both with Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard. My highest priority is to make sure this data is available at anytime. Is clustering my only option?

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It is entirely dependent on what application(s) you're serving. If it's AD/DNS and they're both DCs and DNS servers, you don't need to do anything, if you've set them up the standard way. If it's IIS, you could use NLB. If it's SQL, you could use MS Cluster Services (but not on Standard Edition - requires Enterprise or Datacenter.)

If it's some other server/service(s), you'll have to give us some more information.

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They both have AD/DNS setup, I'm not so much concerned about that. The majority of data is stored in flat files, about half documents and the other half is a database stored in files. (Not my preferred method, but currently the only thing the software developer supports) –  Eric Apr 30 '12 at 19:09
    
Please remember : "dependent on what application(s) you're serving". Are you serving these over SMB (Windows File sharing), NFS, FTP, HTTP, or something else? Is there a difference in how clients access flat files vs "DB stored in files" ? And what do you mean by that: is it something like BerkleyDB using a SMB fileshare? Or something like BTrieve? Once you've detailed that, add it as an edit to your question, so everyone can easily see the important details. –  mfinni Apr 30 '12 at 19:12
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I would recommend running Hyper-V on them and setting up a cluster. It's not that hard to do and you can find tons of documentation on the web. You will need to upgrade to Enterprise or Data Center but that will also help you with licensing the VMS.

To do it the right way you really need a SAN for all the Hyper-H hard drives to live on. Then you can serve up a CSV (cluster shared volume). That basically means the 2 serves can share the same LUN so if one goes down the other can pick up the VM and host it.

There's a lot more to making it truly Highly Available but that is the general idea.

If you cannot get your hands on a SAN maybe check out StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V ( http://www.starwindsoftware.com/native-san-for-hyper-v). It will basically allow you to run a cluster without a SAN. I have not had a chance to test it yet but it sounds really cool.

Hope this helps.

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Why install Hyper-V for this? You can use clustering with a network share resource on a SAN without complicating things with additional VMs. –  Chris McKeown May 1 '12 at 14:06
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