Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server 2.1 Deployment Planning Guide

Using Clusters to Improve Availability

At the most basic level, a cluster is a group of application server instances—often hosted on multiple physical servers—that appear to clients as a single instance. This provides horizontal scalability as well as higher availability than a single instance on a single machine. This basic level of clustering works in conjunction with the HTTP load balancer plug-in, which accepts HTTP and HTTPS requests and forwards them to one of the instances in the cluster. The ORB and integrated JMS brokers also perform load balancing to application server clusters. If an instance fails, become unavailable (due to network faults), or becomes unresponsive, requests are redirected only to existing, available machines. The load balancer can also recognize when an failed instance has recovered and redistribute load accordingly.