Microsoft Expands High Availability Options in Windows Server 2019

Microsoft offers enterprises greater flexibility in setting up and migrating their Windows Server-based failover clusters.

Windows Server

Businesses that are planning to place critical workloads on Windows Server 2019 will have new ways of configuring their high-availability setups.

In test build 17650 of the upcoming server operating system, Microsoft has added a new capability that streamlines the process of migrating server clusters between domains. The system software is available now for evaluation and feedback purposes via the Windows Insider early-access program.

Enterprises are often forced to move clusters to another domain when one company acquires another, explained Microsoft's Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider program, and Senior Program Manager Brandon LeBlanc, in an April 24 blog. Another typical scenario involves organizations that build their servers clusters in a main office and ship them to other locations.

"Moving a cluster from one domain to another has always been a daunting task because you must destroy the cluster to move it," Sarkar and LeBlanc said. "Depending on the roles in the cluster, that role must also be removed and recreated."

In Windows Server 2019, the PowerShell command-line tool will allow users to quickly move their clusters between domains in a much less destructive and time-consuming manner. Using two new PowerShell commandlets, New-ClusterNameAccount and Remove-ClusterNameAccount, administrators can complete the process in fewer steps. A commandlets, or cmdlet, is a lightweight command used to perform a single function in PowerShell.

Microsoft also addressed an incompatibility that can cause problems for failover clusters.

Windows Server 2019 blocks the use of Distributed File System share as a File Share Witness location, an unsupported configuration that can cause cluster instability. A File Share Witness is a file share that helps a multisite cluster's quorum system reach consensus and continue operation when an outage strikes. The quorum model ensures that there are enough remaining nodes, each of which casts its own "vote" if failover operations are required, required to keep workloads running.

Now, the operating system can detect if a File Share Witness is attempting to use the Distributed File System as its location, automatically blocking the operation and generating an error message. Microsoft is also introducing a number of enhancements that allow Fire Share Witness to work on a wider variety of configurations, including workgroups or cross-domain clusters that lack an Active Directory cluster name object, along with other scenarios that weren't previously supported, said Sarkar and LeBlanc.

The Remote Desktop Session Host service has been restored after going missing due to some bugs in previous builds. Part of the Remote Desktop Services server role, the service enables users to run programs on a Windows Server, among other activities.

Finally, Microsoft is warning users that they may encounter some problems if they attempt an in-place upgrade.

Introduced in test build 17639, in-place upgrade functionality eases operating system upgrades by carrying over the settings and installed features of older versions of Windows Server to Windows Server 2019. For now, servers that are set up as Active Directory Domain Controllers may not survive the process unscathed, cautioned the company.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...