NuView Tool Unites Management of Microsoft Clusters

Microsoft has a gaggle of clustering technologies. There’s Microsoft Cluster Services (MSCS), Windows NT Load Balancing Service (WLBS) and, in Windows 2000, component-level load balancing in COM+.

Microsoft Corp. has a gaggle of clustering technologies. There’s Microsoft Cluster Services (MSCS), Windows NT Load Balancing Service (WLBS) and, in Windows 2000, component-level load balancing in COM+.

Each does a different job using different technology, and each relies on different programming interfaces.

NuView Inc. (www.nuview.com) plans to bring together the management of these disparate clustering methods under the umbrella of its ClusterX product. In July, NuView, which provides cluster management software for MSCS configurations, will extend its management tool to WLBS with the ClusterX for WLBS Cluster Management Module. NuView president Rahul Mehta predicts NuView will also cover COM+ load balancing too, sometime soon after the Microsoft Windows 2000 release.

"In a multitiered application, your first tier is going to be one type of clustering technology. Your back end will be different," Mehta says. "The idea is you need one tool that will help you manage them all from a central location."

One of NuView’s primary value-adds for two-node MSCS clusters was a one-to-many view. Where Microsoft’s CluAdmin tool for managing MSCS clusters shows an administrator one cluster, ClusterX shows every MSCS cluster in the enterprise in a single view. The single view eases administration, allowing an IT chief to execute a single action on many clusters at once.

NuView’s new module for WLBS allows the administrator to see all the WLBS clusters in the enterprise in the same view as the MSCS clusters. By combining the clustering types with ClusterX, NuView raises new possibilities for managing Microsoft clusters.

The clearest example of a situation where the new ClusterX module for WLBS will be helpful is in Internet sites based on Microsoft technology. The front end has WLBS spraying Internet traffic across up to 32 Web servers. Those servers, in turn, farm out Web page requests to SQL Server database servers in two-node MSCS clusters on the back end. With Microsoft technology, there is nothing to tell a Web server that it is sending a page request to a crashed or overloaded database server, leading to an error messages that often confront Web visitors. ClusterX allows Web servers running under WLBS to recognize and avoid overloaded or downed servers running under MSCS.

"Tools like this are going to be absolutely important in terms of managing systems correctly and providing a highly reliable e-commerce environment," Mehta says. "Especially in mission-critical situations, somebody needs to take responsibility."

Analyst James Gruener of Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com) agrees that availability helps define the effectiveness of an Internet presence and sees the administrative simplicity of NuView’s product as enabling that. "You’re going to have multiple different kinds of clustering on a Web site," Gruener says. "With this particular tool, you’re able to do a centralized management approach."