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Hardware clustering typically refers to a strategy of coordinating operations between various servers through a single control machine. The primary control machine will run the set of servers through its operating system.
In general, hardware clustering can refer to the use of various pieces of hardware toward a coordinated goal or objective. IT professionals can use hardware or computer clustering for the purposes of parallel processing or enhanced system capacity, or for various fault tolerant designs and data backup strategies.
In server-based hardware clustering, the setup may involve either active or passive secondary hardware pieces. Active pieces will all run their own applications and processes, where passive hardware pieces will be controlled by the central controller.
The hardware clustering strategy for servers is often contrasted with something called application clustering. Here, specific software is used to control clustering servers in a kind of virtualized setup. One of the benefits of hardware clustering for servers is the versatility that can come with setting up individual machines as active components of a clustered server system. One of the downsides can be the cost involved in acquiring the specific hardware pieces.