The goal of any kind of application, computer system or a processor is meeting customer expectations by rendering high-grade performance. But a computer system or web application faces millions of requests per second and it’s practically impossible for a single system to respond to such a huge number of requests.
A cluster architecture helps a system do that. To explain it in very simple terms, it is a system of interconnected nodes that by working together help in executing an application. Here, the user of the application has an impression that only a single system is responding to his requests. Though, it’s only the half-truth.
So, what a cluster is? What is the importance of cluster architecture for the web applications and database? All these and more, we will be answering through this post.
What is a Cluster Architecture?
In cluster architecture, requests or parts of the user requests are divided among two or more computer systems, such that a single user request is handled and delivered by two or more than two nodes (computer systems). The benefit is unquestionably the ability of load balancing and high-availability. How? If one node fails, the request is handled by another node. Hence, there are less or negligible chances of complete system failures.
Clustering: Digging deeper into the concept
The reason why some computer applications need clustering to support their functionalities is the nature of the job they are performing. Just like the level of productivity required from computers operating in a scientific or research firm is different from those in financial or IT companies. Mostly, the clusters are required when the service to be delivered is highly critical and must be made available or processed as fast as possible.
Now that you know what clusters are and why do computer systems need cluster architecture, let’s move on to our next section, which explains the major types of clusters and their benefits.
What are the major types of clusters?
Cluster in itself is a very comprehensive term. It includes multiple tiers and structures depending upon the need of the system. Here, we will be talking about three types of cluster computing architectures:
- Failover clusters.
- High-performance clusters.
- Load balancing clusters.
Failover/High Availability clusters
We all know that a computer is basically a machine which can stop working at least expected times. So, how do system administrators manage such failovers and fix such issues?
Here, the role of failover or high availability clusters comes into existence. Such type of cluster maintains the service availability by a) replicating servers b) redundant software and hardware reconfiguration.
So, every system is monitoring the other and takes up request if any one node fails. These types of clusters are beneficial for those users who have a high-dependency on their computer systems. Examples include the e-commerce businesses, news channels, websites, databases etc.
The system should be efficient enough to know which all other systems are running, who is running which request and what would be the course of action in case of a failure. Hardware like RAID systems or redundant boards provide fault-tolerance ability and provide fully connected networks that can be used when one path breaks.
The important point here is that the servers should not stop working at any cost.
As the name suggests, the objective behind forming high-performance clusters is to deliver high performing computer systems. They run parallel programs that are required for time-exhaustive computations. Such kind of clusters are commonly preferred by the scientific industries.
The basic aim of a high-performance cluster is thus increasing performance by intelligently sharing the workload. That is why they are used by life-sciences research industry, graphics rendering services etc.
Load Balancing Clusters
Such types of clusters work on the idea of distributing loads among different servers. They aim to provide an increased network capacity, eventually increasing the performance. These systems integrate their nodes, with the help of which user requests are evenly distributed across the participating nodes.
It does not mean that the system is working together, rather it redirects requests individually as they arise. E-commerce businesses and internet service providers use load balancing clusters to manage user requests and deliver high performance.
However, despite so much distribution at the back-end, to the user, it appears to be a single system only. The role of clusters varies from industry to industry, depending upon the nature of operations and level of performance required. As a customer, you should be aware of the implications and benefits of clusters and how they can affect the service delivered.
Whether you run your own website or are planning to have one, take services from a provider who can deliver high-grade performing dedicated or VPS servers, which can have powerful clusters.
Our experts at ZNetLive spend a considerable amount of time delivering the best-in-class services for you. You can raise your queries related to clusters in our comments section below and our folks here would be happy to assist you.
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