June 19, 2006

Stratus plus Red Hat AS 4: Lots of nines

Author: Joe Barr

Stratus Technologies, Inc. and Red Hat today announced the coming availability of 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) AS 4 across six server models, serving both the telecommunications and enterprise markets. Stratus's Director of Product Management Denny Lane and Public Relations Director Ken Donoghue briefed NewsForge last week on today's announcement.

The partnership between Stratus and Red Hat was announced last fall. Today's announcement brings specifics on the models of servers and the software involved. Stratus had previously offered a custom Linux OS with some of its telecommunications servers, but until now has offered only Microsoft Windows on its enterprise-class ftServer line.

While Hewlett-Packard's NonStop Computing division -- formerly known as Tandem Computers -- is a formidable opponent in the world of fault tolerance, Stratus is making inroads in the market with its Intel-based lineup of less expensive, but still highly reliable, servers. How highly reliable? Stratus updates a speedometer at the bottom of its home page daily with a 60-day rolling average of the uptime of its fleet of ftServers around the globe. It shows 99.9997% at present, which equates to about 95 seconds per year.

Based on today's announcement, Stratus customers will soon be able to choose 64-bit RHEL AS 4 on three new T Series server models: the T40 CO, T40 AC, and the T65 AC. The T40 CO is a carrier-grade server engineered to meet NEBS Level 3 standards in central office environments. This server is based on two-way SMP 3.2GHz Xeon processors. The T40 AC and T65 AC servers are non-NEBS models described as being suitable for "next generation services" or "enterprise telephony applications." The T65 uses dual-core Xeon 2.8GHz processors.

Stratus will offer customers the choice of 64-bit RHEL AS 4 on the ft2400, 4300, and 5700 server models. It will be available at the same price as the same model with Windows Server 2003, or they can buy the server without an operating system and install it themselves.

Lane explained how the Stratus servers achieve their remarkable uptimes. Each server is made up of two identical machines which run in lockstep. The operating system sits above them both, and Stratus's secret sauce makes the machines appear as a single box to the OS.

Should a failure occur in a component of either of the machines comprising the server (whether CPU, memory, power supply, disk, or anything else), the operating system would never be aware of it. But behind the scenes, the Stratus software would notify both Stratus and the customer of the incident, and replacement parts would be shipped. The customer, without ever missing a cycle, would then hot-swap the good component for the bad.

According to Stratus, when the new servers become available next month, following the release of RHEL AS 4, Update 4, virtually any Linux application that runs on that operating system will run on a fault-tolerant Stratus server, without needing to be changed in any way.


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