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Running one or two servers in active mode

Expert Jeremy Kadlec looks at the performance benefits of running either one server in active mode and another in inactive mode, each with four processors, versus running two servers in active mode, each with two processors.

As far as performance tuning, could you offer your opinion or suggest where I might find statistics for the following scenario. Which offers better performance?

A) Running one server in active mode and another in inactive mode, each with four processors.

B) Running both servers in active mode, each with two processors.
I think this clustering question comes down to cost and server management more so then raw performance. In the first scenario, one server is handling all of the processing and the second is idle until a failover occurs. So you will have the same performance with the second server as you do with the first. In the second scenario, both servers would need to operate at half capacity (i.e., 50%) CPU usage so that if an issue occurs one server can handle the original 50% of the load and the failed server's 50% of the load. If both servers are running at 100% capacity, then when a failure occurs, one server will be running at 200% capacity and the performance will not be able to support the organization. This would certainly be detrimental to the performance. A third option may be to have two servers with four CPU's running at 50% capacity each in order for one server to support the load after a failover. From a performance perspective, I would think in a worst case scenario, which is probably your best bet for a high availability/disaster recovery, select either option one or three that I offered. I hope this all makes sense!


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This was last published in July 2005

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