This article is Part 28 in a series of articles on the "Top 31 Favorite Features in Windows Server 2012" with my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists.  Be sure to follow them on Twitter and check out their blogs this month for the other parts of this series:

The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol ( DHCP ) is a core network service in most IT shops for providing IP Address lease information to client devices, and potentially, to servers.  In this article, we’ll look at the new DHCP Failover capability in Windows Server 2012 as a cost-effective option that can provide High Availability ( HA ) for this important service.  DHCP Failover in Windows Server 2012 is based on the IETF draft for the DHCP Failover Protocol.

Is High Availability for DHCP NEW?

Traditionally, in Windows Server 2008 R2 and prior, there were a couple ways of providing High Availability ( HA ) for the DHCP Service via:

  • Clustering - Configuring the DHCP role as a clustered resource in a Failover Cluster across two or more physical server nodes. 
  • Split Scope - Using a “Split-Scope” approach between two standalone DHCP servers – where each server serves the same DHCP scope, but each only has a portion of the IP Address range to be leased.

While each of these approaches can indeed provide forms of HA for DHCP, both have some challenges …

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