Windows Server Failover Clustering Review

Good reliability and scalability, however the licensing is confusing


What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for redundancy, our virtual machines, and for automatic failover.

What is most valuable?

The failover is the solution's most valuable aspect.

The reliability is pretty good.

The Dell side of the technical support that is on offer is quite good.

The solution can scale.

The solution, especially the latest version, has pretty good stability.

What needs improvement?

The solution has failed me maybe twice since I've had it over the course of ten years. The failure was a long time ago, however, and it happened on a different version. RIght now, the current version seems to work properly.

I'd like to see the reliability continue to improve. I don't ever want the solution to go down on me. It's too important.

They could drop the price or improve the cost of the hyper-converged component of it all. Right now, licensing is expensive and complex.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for about 10 years now. It's been a decade or so. It's been a long time.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I would say the solution is very stable. It's working for me. I don't experience bugs or glitches on this version. It hasn't failed. It's reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the solution is good. If an organization needs to scale up, it shouldn't have any issue doing so.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support comes from two sources: from Microsoft and also through Dell. I would say Dell probably supports it better, however, usually, you have to get their pro support to access that level of service.

Microsoft's support always seems to be from a foreign source. In my opinion, it seems to be lacking. Occasionally, due to the accents, there is a bit of a language barrier. The support can be difficult to understand. I'd prefer it if I knew that the support was more local and that those assisting me were in my time zone or within my region.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very straightforward. It's not complex.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The licensing is kind of convoluted. We have to pay licensing costs twice. Once because we're a software as a service (SaaS) company where people access our servers. I have to get the service provider license purchased. I purchased that from Dell, but it's a Microsoft license subscription and it's about $150 a month. 

The second licensing we have to worry about is surrounding our other licenses as a Microsoft partner, which is actually mostly free for us. That's not bad, however, that's only because we're a Microsoft partner. Otherwise, for our internal business servers, we'd have to purchase another license. The clustering itself is free with Windows.

Therefore, if I buy the Windows licenses it has it on the VMware. However, if I buy that license and a licensed server, then the license comes with a server as far as the clustering. It's confusing.

On top of that, if we wanted to go with the Microsoft hyper-converged environment, then our costs go through the roof. It just gets crazy expensive due to the fact that the data center version is so expensive and that's their hyper-converged solution. A hyper-converged solution comes with the Windows Server, however, it's a set data center version, so the price escalates quickly.

What other advice do I have?

We're a Microsoft silver partner. We're on Windows Server 2016.

I would warn potential new users that they need to pay attention to the licensing due to the fact that it's complex, and, depending on what you need, can get expensive. The newer stuff seems to be more reliable than the older systems. I'm not using it yet, but I'd advise new users to get Windows 2019.

Overall, I'd rate the solution seven out of ten.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Silver Partner
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