A computer cluster is a set of connected computers (nodes) that work together as if they are a single (much more powerful) machine. Unlike grid computers, where each node performs a different task, computer clusters assign the same task to each node. Nodes in a cluster are usually connected to each other through high-speed local area networks. Each node runs its own instance of an operating system. A computer cluster may range from a simple two-node system connecting two personal computers to a supercomputer with a cluster architecture. Computer clusters are often used for cost-effective high performance computing (HPC) and high availability (HA) by businesses of all sizes. If a single component fails in a computer cluster, the other nodes continue to provide uninterrupted processing.
Compared to a single computer, a computer cluster can provide faster processing speed, larger storage capacity, better data integrity, greater reliability and wider availability of resources. Computer clusters are usually dedicated to specific functions, such as load balancing, high availability, high performance or large-scale processing. Compared to a mainframe computer, the amount of power and processing speed produced by a cluster is more cost effective. The networked nodes in a cluster also create an efficient, distributed infrastructure that prevents bottlenecks, thus improving performance.
Computer clustering relies on centralized management software that makes the nodes available as orchestrated servers. The right enterprise operating system can prevent application downtime with clustering that replicates data across multiple computer clusters and provides service failover across any distance with geo clustering. SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension can protect workloads across globally distributed data centers. It allows companies to deploy both physical and virtual Linux clusters across data centers, ensuring business continuity.