Monitoring a Network Load Balancing cluster

Once you've created a Network Load Balancing cluster, you have to monitor it so you're aware of each node's status. Here are some techniques for keeping tabs on your cluster.

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Creating a Network Load Balancing Cluster is only the beginning. Now you have to monitor it so that you can be aware of each cluster node's status. Monitoring cluster nodes is an important process but not a difficult one. This article will show you some monitoring techniques that you can use to keep tabs on your cluster.

By far the easiest way of monitoring the cluster is simply to open the Network Load Balancing Manager console. The console displays the cluster in a hierarchical manner. The tree in the upper left portion of the console shows a container representing the cluster as a whole (in this case, cluster.domain.com). Beneath that you will see a listing for each individual cluster node.

If you look at the bottom portion of the console screen you'll see several log entries. These are the most recent log entries produced by actions in the Network Load Balancing Manager. These entries provide details regarding any configuration changes made to the cluster, as well as error messages related to improper node configurations.

These log entries are handy for diagnostic and monitoring purposes. The problem is that they are not automatically saved. If you want log entries to be saved, you'll have to enable logging for the cluster. To do so:

  1. Choose the Log Settings command from the console's Options menu.
  2. Logging is not enabled by default. To enable it, select the Enable Logging check box.
  3. Enter a name and path for the log file. You can use any filename you want as long as it's valid, but I recommend using something that will reflect the log's purpose. (I've named the log file on my test system NLB.TXT. I chose the .TXT file extension because the log file is really nothing more than just a text file.)
  4. Click OK to enable logging.

Note: The log file you have just enabled will only contain information regarding activities performed through the Network Load Balancing Manager console. It does not contain information related to the Network Load Balancing service itself. That is stored in the System log.

You can access the System log through the Event Viewer, which you can access via the Event Viewer command found on the Administrative Tools menu. When the Event Viewer console opens, click the System container to view the System log.

The System log contains information related to several Windows services. You can tell which events are related to the Network Load Balancing service by looking at the event source. Events triggered by the Network Load Balancing Service have a source listing of WLBS.

Monitoring the Network Load Balancing service is no harder than monitoring any other Windows service. But remember, the purpose in creating a Network Load Balancing cluster is to provide scalability and fault tolerance. Neglecting the task of monitoring the cluster would undermine these goals. My next article will show you how to use the NLB command to obtain more detailed information about the cluster.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server, Exchange Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. He writes regularly for SearchWinComputing.com and other TechTarget sites.

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This was first published in December 2006

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