NEC Supports VMware Virtualization on Fault-Tolerant Servers

NEC officials say VMware's vSphere 4 virtualization platform is now supported on NEC fault-tolerant servers, which will give uptime assurance to virtualized environments running on the high-availability systems.

NEC Corp. of America is offering native VMware vSphere support on its fault-tolerant servers.

NEC officials announced June 29 that the company's sixth-generation FT Express5800/300 servers-which are powered by the latest Intel Xeon processors-support VMware's virtualization platform, a move they say will make it easier for enterprises to adopt virtualization for mission-critical applications.

With the use of virtualization on the rise in data centers, the continuous availability of these fault-tolerant systems becomes even more important, according to Mike Mitsch, general manager for NEC's IT Platform Group.

"IT industry trends indicate that virtual machine densities per server are increasing as more applications and users are consolidated onto virtualized servers," Mitsch said in a statement. "It has become a business imperative that IT managers consider hardware fault-tolerant servers as a component of their overall business continuity strategy to protect these virtualized environments."

In a report in April, IDC analysts found that virtualization is still a top priority for businesses as they buy x86 servers. The worldwide recession has helped drive the trend, IDC said.

IDC found that 18.2 percent of all servers shipped in the fourth quarter of 2009 were virtualized, an increase from 15.2 percent in the same period in 2008. In addition, virtualization software licenses grew 13 percent during the last three months of 2009.

NEC and Stratus Technologies, which also builds fault-tolerant servers, have run virtualization technology on the high-availability systems for several years.

Fault-tolerant servers offer twin components that work in lockstep, leading to the high availability. If one set of components fails, the other set continues working with no interruption to the user.

With this capability, a business' virtual environment will be able to continue running even if one set of components in the server fails. NEC's support for vSphere is offered without the need for external storage, networking or additional server systems, the company said.

"NEC's support of VMware on the FT server series brings fault tolerance to VMware environments at breakthrough price points and simplicity," Mitsch said.

The support is available on the NEC Express5800 R320a-E4 and R320a-M4, starting at $18,799.

NEC's announcement comes two weeks after Stratus put a $50,000 guarantee on one of its fault-tolerant servers running VMware virtualization technology.

Through its Zero Downtime $50K Guarantee, Stratus is promising customers 100 percent uptime for newly purchased ftServer 6300 servers running VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions. If there is any unplanned downtime caused by problems with the server or VMware technology, Stratus says it will pay the customers $50,000 in cash or in product credit.

"Our customers have told us for decades that the only truly effective way to ensure the highest uptime for mission-critical applications is by delivering solutions where the hardware, software and services work in concert," Stratus Chief Marketing Officer Roy Sanford said in a statement announcing the program.

The Stratus program runs through the end of 2010.