Overview of the Network Load Balancing Deployment Process

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

A Network Load Balancing (NLB) cluster comprises multiple servers running Windows Server® 2008 operating system.

NLB allows you to combine application servers to provide a level of scaling and availability that is not possible with an individual server. NLB distributes incoming client requests among the servers in the cluster to more evenly balance the workload of each server and prevent overload on any one server. To client computers, the NLB cluster appears as a single server that is highly scalable and fault tolerant.

The NLB deployment process assumes that your design team has completed the design of the NLB solution for your organization and has performed limited testing in a lab. After the design team tests the design in the lab, your deployment team implements the NLB solution first in a pilot environment and then in your production environment. For detailed information on designing an NLB solution, see Designing Network Load Balancing in the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Guide.

This deployment guide covers the following areas:

Implementing a New Network Load Balancing Cluster

Verifying the Network Load Balancing Cluster and Enabling Client Access

Upgrading an Existing Network Load Balancing Cluster

Selecting an Automated Deployment Method

You should start the deployment of your NLB solution by determining how to automate the deployment. By automating the deployment of NLB, you ensure that the installation of NLB is consistent, that the time required to deploy NLB is minimized, and that restoring failed NLB cluster hosts is accomplished. You should manually deploy NLB only if creating and testing the automation files and scripts would take more time than manually configuring the cluster.

You can automate the deployment of Windows Server 2008 and NLB cluster hosts by using one of the following methods:

  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

  • Unattended installation

  • Sysprep

Depending on the requirements of each cluster, more than one method might be required to deploy all your NLB clusters.

The unattended installation and Sysprep methods require that you create answer files to automate the deployment. The NLB-specific installation and configuration information is required in the Microsoft-Windows-NetworkLoadBalancing-Core section of the unattended answer file.

For more information on all of these automated deployment methods, see the following: