By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2004-10-25 Print this article Print

The WS 2300, which shipped last month, is priced at $19,700 for an entry-level system and uses industry-standard server components—including Intel Corp. Xeon processors. The WS 2300 provides the underlying hardware circuitry to split every crucial component into active and spare units.

Many clustering software products require the applications running on top to be cluster-aware, and the failover process can disrupt application transactions. However, because the WS 2300s fault-tolerant components are built in, IT managers can run applications on supported operating systems without modification, and most hardware failures are transparent to applications.

We tested a fully loaded $21,800 WS 2300 system that included a 3.06GHz Xeon processor (and an identical CPU as a spare), 1GB of memory, six Serial ATA hard drives, dual 10/100/1,000M-bps Ethernet ports and dual power supplies.

The WS 2300 competes with fault-tolerant servers such as NEC Solutions America Inc.s Express 5800 and with software such as Marathon Technologies Corp.s FTvirtual Server 6.0. However, Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition is the only operating system supported by WS 2300.

Read more here about NECs fault-tolerant servers. In tests, the ftServer WS 2300 was easy to deploy, but initial data replication might take some time, especially if its intended for use on a system thats outfitted with many drives.

Our system had six 80GB hard drives, and it took us a significant amount of time to configure the six drives as three fault-tolerant pairs. The operation is done via the Stratus ftServer MMC (Microsoft Management Console) snap-in, which, with its nonintuitive design, is not very helpful.

Once the system is running, it is rock-solid—aside from management quirks and time-dependent data replication. When we pulled the power cord, pulled out drives and unplugged Ethernet cables, our WS 2300 test system and installed applications continued running without a hitch.

Unfortunately, the system does not have hot-swappable power supplies, so IT managers will need to schedule downtime to replace them.

Stratus provides an optional out-of-band management service, starting at $2,400 per year, called Stratus ASN (ActiveService Network). The WS 2300 is connected to ASN via a phone line from the modem port in the optional VTM (Virtual Technician Module). Pairs of VTMs are sold for $1,400.

In the event of a failure, the WS 2300 sends the pertinent information to Stratus, and engineers at the company will remotely diagnose the problem.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at http://infrastructure.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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