|Beschrijving||Het verdelen van de instructies over meerdere computers en in geval van falen direct kunnen overschakelen naar een andere computer.|
A computer cluster is a group of linked computers, working together closely thus in many respects forming a single computer. The components of a cluster are commonly, but not always, connected to each other through fast local area networks. Clusters are usually deployed to improve performance and availability over that of a single computer, while typically being much more cost-effective than single computers of comparable speed or availability.
High-availability clusters (also known as Failover Clusters) are implemented primarily for the purpose of improving the availability of services that the cluster provides. They operate by having redundant nodes, which are then used to provide service when system components fail. The most common size for an HA cluster is two nodes, which is the minimum requirement to provide redundancy. HA cluster implementations attempt to use redundancy of cluster components to eliminate single points of failure. There are commercial implementations of High-Availability clusters for many operating systems. The Linux-HA project is one commonly used free software HA package for the Linux operating system. The LanderCluster from Lander Software can run on Windows, Linux, and UNIX platforms.
Load-balancing is when multiple computers are linked together to share computational workload or function as a single virtual computer. Logically, from the user side, they are multiple machines, but function as a single virtual machine. Requests initiated from the user are managed by, and distributed among, all the standalone computers to form a cluster. This results in balanced computational work among different machines, improving the performance of the cluster systems.
Often clusters are used primarily for computational purposes, rather than handling IO-oriented operations such as web service or databases. For instance, a cluster might support computational simulations of weather or vehicle crashes. The primary distinction within computer clusters is how tightly-coupled the individual nodes are. For instance, a single computer job may require frequent communication among nodes - this implies that the cluster shares a dedicated network, is densely located, and probably has homogenous nodes. This cluster design is usually referred to as Beowulf Cluster. The other extreme is where a computer job uses one or few nodes, and needs little or no inter-node communication. This latter category is sometimes called "Grid" computing. Tightly-coupled compute clusters are designed for work that might traditionally have been called "supercomputing". Middleware such as MPI (Message Passing Interface) or PVM (Parallel Virtual Machine) permits compute clustering programs to be portable to a wide variety of clusters.