Using AppFabric for Windows Server is a very solid choice for a distributed application cache back end for web farms. However when preparing to roll this out several weeks ago, I was met with an interesting problem: the High Availability features of AppFabric caching require you to be running Windows Server Enterprise edition or higher on all cluster nodes.
In initial planning for this environment, I was told by our SysAds that this was no problem, if we need Enterprise, we can have Enterprise. However, several weeks later, when I presented my architecture diagrams to the server team, I was told that there may be a slight snafu: Windows Server 2012 doesn't actually have an Enterprise edition and we are being prompted by our licensing consultants to not roll out any more Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise boxes either. We were not alone in this problem; it appears that this was a genuine oversight on Microsoft's part.
We finally put a call into Microsoft which (after about two weeks) ended with me opening a support request with Microsoft. Less than two hours after initially opening the support request, I received a call back which informed me that a solution was nigh! Microsoft had just released Cumulative Update 4 (I was only aware of CU2 - which is linked to on the AppFabric download page) which addresses this specific issue! It appears that CU4 was released on April 11, right around the time we resorted to calling Microsoft.
I installed CU4 yesterday afternoon and, at initial glance, it seems to have resolved the issues we were seeing. Stay tuned for another article about using AppFabric High Availability Caching to back your web farm.
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