Stratus Brings HA to x86 Computing

Stratus offers Avance software based on XenServer virtualization.

Stratus Technologies is looking to bring its fault-tolerant capabilities to the mainstream x86 server world through virtualization software.

The server vendors, whose ftServer systems offer redundant components to ensure high availability, on June 10 is unveiling its Stratus Avance software, which has the open-source XenServer virtualization platform from Citrix Systems embedded inside. The technology allows businesses to create high-availability servers in minutes, said Lee Kaminski, product manager for Avance.

The software is aimed primarily at small and midsize businesses and such environments as remote offices of larger companies, retail stores, distributed warehouses and departmental computing, Kaminski said.

With its fault-tolerant systems, Stratus targeted large enterprises that needed constant uptime though high availability and simplicity, he said.

"Now we're [offering] availability and ease of use and affordability, the third leg of the stool, and that's virtualization," Kaminski said.

Stratus began partnering with VMware two years ago on high-end data center deployments, but did not have an offering for SMBs or remote office situations, he said. Looking at that space, Stratus found that SMBs are looking for higher availability but don't want the cost or complexity that's traditionally gone with it.

Using Avance, businesses can deploy the software on two Ethernet-connected x86 servers, and then deploy virtual machines on those servers. Processing is done on one node and automically copied on the other. As in Stratus' traditional fault-tolerant environments, should one of the physical servers go down, workloads are automatically shifted to the secondary physical server and VMs.

The software, through a single Web console, also remotely monitors and manages the physical servers and VMs, sending out e-mail alerts if one of the nodes goes down, Kaminski said.

Pricing for the software is $2.,500 per server, so a two-node system will run a business $5,000, he said.

The Ethernet-linked servers don't need to run identical processors, but Stratus officials recommend running chips from the same family-no mixing of processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, Kaminski said. The software supports systems running both Windows and Linux operatings systems.

He said Stratus officials are mulling a road map that promise greater scalability and availability for Avance. For example, they are looking at expanding Avance to include a third node, where one can be used for disaster recovery.

Also, the company has plans to support VMware and Microsoft virtualization capabilities, possibly through companion APIs, Kaminski said. Also, Dell joined Stratus June 10 in supporting Avance, and he said Stratus is currently in the process of certifying IBM and Hewlett-Packard systems to run the software.

Avance will enable Stratus, which has traditionally dealt in the high-end space, to branch out into the midmarket space, Kaminski said. The company also will rely more heavily on ISVs and systems integrators to bring the software into these "greenfield opportunities," he said.