Subject IB Clustering (random thoughts and questions)

I've had Interbase in my production environment (NT/2000 running an
internet-based political accounting product) since v4.2, and I have
been extremely happy with IB's stability, performance, and near-zero
administration requirements. However, I do have two problems with IB
which seem to be somewhat insurmountable that may force me to move my
production data to MS SQL Server (sigh), if they can't be resolved.

At first glance of various SQL Server user testimonials, it seems SQL
Server 2000 with clustering will solve both of my problems outlined

The First Problem:

Most of my clients have very small datasets on our server, with
perhaps 10,000 records (at most) within their data space. There are
some prospective clients we would really like to get (and who really
want to be able to use our services) who have databases containing 2-
3 million records of equivalent data in their possesion that would
need to be imported into our system. Getting this type of client
will more than pay for the transition to SQL Server and its
additional administration costs.

To import data, I can: a) use an external application using IBO to
perform a series of parameterized inserts, b) use a script file of
insert statements containing a whole bunch of insert statements
created from the clients data, or c) use the 'External Files'
approach (which is somewhat of an arcane process).

Option 'C' can be safely ruled out because it uses every last bit of
CPU power on the IB server until it completes (which takes many
hours - leaving our other clients with an unacceptable level of
system performance until the import is completed).

Option 'A' is INCREDIBLY slow. It might take a week to import a
clients data using that option.

Option 'B' seems to be in the middle of 'A' and 'B', as long as the
script has the 'Yield' property set to True, otherwise it behaves
much like Option 'C'.

Overall, I don't believe the long-term management of such a large
number of records will be difficult, but just getting those records
into the database to begin with seems nearly impossible.

The Second Problem:

I really, really want some type of automatic fail-over redundancy if
my primary IB server crashes. IB really doesn't seem to make this
easy to accomplish.

The only (seemingly) viable theory I've worked out to accomplish this

1) Put all data files onto a shared disk array, connected to a
Primary and Backup IB server
2) Replicate the ISC4 database from the Primary server to the Backup
server in real time.
3) Use a hardware load balancer which will route all client requests
to the Primary server unless the Primary server is COMPLETELY
unavailable, in which case requests will be directed to the Backup

Does this theory seem like it is worth pursuing? Am I missing some
fundamental aspect that I should be considering?

Let me be very clear: I really want to continue using IB! Any
thoughts, suggestions, comments, or rants would be greatly

Best Regards,

David Montgomery