A Brief and Incomplete History of Clustering in VS .NET

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A Brief and Incomplete History of Clustering
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It would be arrogant to assume that modern forms of clustering software are the only ones that have ever been available, or even that they are necessarily the best. The most famous early commercialization of clustering took place at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC; they were acquired by Compaq in 1998; Compaq was in turn acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2001). DEC s VMS operating system was introduced in 1978, and it quickly achieved great success. In an attempt to maintain and grow that success and to compete with fault-tolerant
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There can, of course, be more than one standby system in a cluster, and far more complex configurations. We discuss clustering configuration options in detail in 17, Failover Configurations.
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Local Clustering and Failover
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systems sold by Tandem (ironically, in 1997 Tandem was also acquired by Compaq), DEC began to introduce their VMScluster in 1980 and continued enhancing it well into the 1990s. VMScluster was a distributed computer system, made up of multiple, thenstandard VAX CPUs and storage controllers, connected by a high-speed serial bus, which supported simultaneous connections to as many as 16 nodes. VMS was extended to permit each major system facility to run on each CPU in the cluster; the CPUs communicated with each other on the serial bus. Two key pieces of software were developed: a distributed lock manager to manage multiple CPUs trying to write to the same disks and a connection manager that determined which CPUs were active at any particular time and coordinated their efforts. The result was a single distributed operating system that ran across multiple CPUs. Services were delivered continuously as long as a majority of the CPUs and their OSs were operating. Functionally, VMScluster delivered nearly continuous operations, with little or no interruption when a CPU or OS failed. In 1991, a Wall Street financial firm was concerned because their trading systems, which ran Sybase s RDBMS on SunOS, were having failures. The failures interrupted the firm s ability to trade and cost them a lot of money. They contracted with Fusion Systems, a small New York City consulting company, for Fusion to produce software that allow a system that had failed to automatically migrate its services to a dedicated standby system that would take over and continue running the services. Although the firm did not deploy the product, Fusion turned this project s output into the first commercially available failover software for SunOS, called High Availability for Sun. It was a very limited product; early releases only supported failing over to a dedicated standby system (this configuration is called asymmetric or active-passive failover) in two node clusters. Around the same time, Hewlett-Packard released SwitchOverUX, their first entry into the clustering space. In 1992, IBM acquired their first clustering software, HA/CMP, from a small company called CLaM Associates (now called Availant), making it available for AIX. After a few years, HA/CMP became the first clustering software that supported as many as 16 nodes in a cluster. It was designed specifically for NFS and could not be used with other applications. Later, in 1992, a group of former Sun SEs in Silicon Valley decided that they could write a better failover product. They formed their own company, called Tidalwave Technologies, and wrote a product called FirstWatch. It was better able to support symmetric or active-active failover in two node configurations (for more on clustering configurations, see 17). FirstWatch was also easier to install and configure than the Fusion product. Tidalwave had entered into an agreement for Qualix, a California reseller, to exclusively sell FirstWatch, which is why many people at the time believed that FirstWatch was a Qualix product.
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