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Teaming and Failover

December 23, 2007

On this blog posting, I thought I’d describe teaming and failover.

Teaming is the process of installing multiple NICs into a server or router, and configuring them work together. Teaming is controlled by the software on the network device that is using the teaming service. A team can include up to eight network ports in a server. This can be up to eight single-port network adapters (card-based or integrated) or a smaller number of multi-port adapters. Remember, however, that because teaming can be for a variety of purposes, you must be familiar with the process of configuring a team.

Failover is when you want to make sure that a server or other network device is constantly available. Failover can play an important role in your server network. A failover, which is automatic and transparent to the user, switches you to a backup device in the event of the failure of a server, database, router, or other network device. You can use failover for emergency situations when you have a device failure or when you need to take a device down for routine maintenance. Failover requires that you have a duplicate device that is connected and ready to be switched to in the event that the original hardware fails. This option can be expensive to implement, but if your cost of being down is more than the cost of the redundant hardware, it is well worth it. You can implement many levels of failover, ranging from support for very minor components, such as a network card, to the extreme of having a backup device to everything on your network. If you use routers that support the Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP), you can configure two or more routers to provide redundancy and failover services. However, failover should not be limited to NIC and router installations.

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