Thursday, October 16, 2008

Scaling out MOSS 2007 implementation using Windows network load balance clusters (NLB)

Scaling out an existing implementation or implementing high available performance clusters are always challenge, I have hammered my head many time with the requirement with different Microsoft product like BizTalk, SQL Server, MOSS 2007, SharePoint 2003 etc. From my experience I can say to scaling out MOSS 2007 implementation or implementing high performance cluster is comparatively easier then other MicroSoft products. Well if we talk about performance, so I would say it's majorly depend on two things, back end SQL Server is the first and WFE (Web Front-End) is the second. There are some other stuff which are also important for achieving high performance and availability in implementation but here I would like to mainly focus about WFE and MOSS 2007 Farm implementation on Windows network load balance (NLB) cluster in this post.

To demonstrate, I have used two Windows Server 2003 on single NLB cluster. I would also like to discuss some other windows features which are very helpful in such implementation like network connectivity and physical connections, IIS, NLB manager tool.

  • Network connectivity and physical network design is very important to achieve best of it, network between servers should be very fast and high available and network design should have minimum possible latency between two servers. 

  • To get best out of IIS 6.0, we can implement compression stream, it also improve performance to some extend.

  • If the physical servers haven't balanced configuration then I would prefer to configure priority and also set distribution bandwidth according to amount of performance excellence between them by using NLB manager. If WFE servers across your farms are not running smiler services or not having same configuration then users or requests can experience imbalance depend on the server which is serving them.
NLB Manager

Host Properties

You can see above how to configure load distribution between servers on specific ports if requires.

Well, now we are all set to implement MOSS 2007 in Windows Server 2003 NLB environment.

I have installed Office Server 2007 on both node and selected all component to install, here it's up to need, weather you are planning to dedicate the server for WFE or not (Which will be the requirement in real world scenarios).

That's it, what am I read "That's it"!!!, yes you are right, you just need to install on NLB nodes, another important thing is load balanced URL, I have already made an entry into DNS server with NLB domain and portal URL with NLB virtual IP address, so when I create portal (SharePoint application), it can resolve header and translate name address to virtual IP.

DNS Manager

Now there could be two questions, if this is fresh installation then how to create SharePoint application on load balance or if it's scale out installation then how to extend the existing application. Not a big deal, below are the answers.

How to create new SharePoint application on NLB node?

1. Go to create application page using Application Management in Central Administration Site.

2. Configure the application as standard new SharePoint application. But make sure you are providing the DNS entry we have made for load balanced URL (which translate the virtual NLB cluster IP).

3. After creating application you can notice all load balanced IIS servers are been populated with new SharePoint application. All IIS node servers now have physical website on separate location and respective entry in IIS website.

Bingo!!!!, we are done, now you are on load balance application, let me access the application from different client machine and let's check IIS logs for the websites that which servers are serving our requests.

WIN 1 server's log:

WIN 2 server's log:

You can see above logs' snapshots and see randomly both servers are serving our HTTP GET/POST requests.

We are ON SPOT!! Again BINGO!!

Now the second question, How to extend existing SharePoint application on scaled out NLB Mode?

A very simple answer for that question, you can extend the existing SharePoint application by extending web application to another IIS application from Application Management in Central Administration portal. Make sure you use load balanced URL for the same as we have used in above example.

Hope you like this article, please give your feedback to


Waqas Sarwar said...

Hey Nikhal.

Thanks for the nice post.

I setup the network load balancing using the reference of the your 2nd link.
What i did.
Both Web front ends are having 1 NIC card each.
I have 1 DNS entry for my site: address: and its also ping from other computers)
then i configured the NLB with the help of NLB Manger. Giving the site URL as cluster IP then giving then add Host IPs(both computer one by one). I open all ports and also using the Multi cast. Both server are converged now and no error.

Now i went in sahrepoint and create a web application on the port 80 and giving the Host headers:
after successfully completing these steps.
i reset the IIS and now i type the address on the browser
The following error occured.

Network Access Message: The page cannot be displayed

Explanation: The request timed out before the page could be retrieved.

Try the following:
Refresh page: Search for the page again by clicking the Refresh button. The timeout may have occurred due to Internet congestion.
Check spelling: Check that you typed the Web page address correctly. The address may have been mistyped.
Contact website: You may want to contact the website administrator to make sure the Web page still exists. You can do this by using the e-mail address or phone number listed on the website home page.
If you are still not able to view the requested page, try contacting your administrator or Helpdesk.

Technical Information (for support personnel)
Error Code 10060: Connection timeout
Background: The gateway could not receive a timely response from the website you are trying to access. This might indicate that the network is congested, or that the website is experiencing technical difficulties.
Date: 2/27/2009 6:36:12 PM

Hope you will understand, Please tell me where i am doing the wrong. I am totally confused.

The Rogue Monchichi said...


We have a similar problem.. I had a question about session state...

How does session state work with the NLB... could that be one of the issues?

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