Stratus Unveils Two New Fault-Tolerant Systems

The vendor rounds out its Intel-based high-availability line with low-end and midrange servers that will support Linux.

Stratus Technologies plans on delivering two new servers that will complete the transition of the companys fault-tolerant systems to the latest Intel Xeon processors.

In addition to using dual-core Xeon chips in its low-end ftServer 2500 and midrange ftServer 4400, Stratus announced July 16 that it will offer support for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS4 operating system across its fault-tolerant line.

The combination of these two fault-tolerant servers, along with the companys high-end ftServer 6200 system, which uses quad-core Xeons, gives Stratus, based in Maynard, Mass., the chance to compete for enterprise customers that currently use compute clusters or Unix-based systems for mission-critical applications and large databases, said Denny Lane, director of product marketing for Stratus.

"We do feel like we have something to go after companies like Sun [Microsystems] and some of the other dedicated Unix providers with a Linux system," Lane said. "With some of the older systems, customers did not feel that we had enough horse power, but now we really do think we can go after the high-end workloads with a Linux-based system."

Stratus began offering Linux in its fault-tolerant servers as far back as 2002, initially with its own variant of the open-source operating system.

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Fault-tolerant systems offer twin components that work in lockstep, which allows for high availability within the servers. If one set of components fail, the other set can continue working with no interruption to the user.

The market for these systems has grown, as large enterprises confront situations such as natural disasters and increasingly complicated government regulations that require some data to be stored for decades and other data to be recalled at a moments notice.

Each of the new Stratus systems shares a similar design, with two CRUs (customer-replaceable units) that run in lockstep. The CRUs contain identical CPU and I/O components in a 2U (3.5-inch) chassis, which then fits into a 19-inch rack.

Both the 2500 and 4400 use the same Intel Xeon 5130 processor, a dual-core chip that runs at 2GHz and offers 4MB of Level 2 cache and a 1333MHz front side bus. The 2500 model is a single-socket system, while the 4400 can be built as either a one- or two-socket server.

Both servers offer a minimum of 2GB of memory, but the midrange 4400 can be maxed out at 12GB, while the 2500 offers a maximum of 6GB. The systems also offer up to six internal SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) or SATA (serial ATA) hard disk drives. The SAS drives offer a capacity of up to 300GB, while the SATA drives allow for 500GB.

The two systems also offer either six PCI-X slots or a combination of two PCI-Express and four PCI-X slots.

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The new servers, along with the 6200 model, which was released in March, offer additional features such as a virtual technician module card that enables administrators to remotely monitor the system.

Stratus also offers its Active Upgrade software, which allows an IT manager to break the lockstep of the systems and patch or upgrade one side, while the other half continues working. This feature is only available for systems running Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

The ftServer 2500 and ftServer 4400 systems will start shipping by September. Lane said the price for the low-end server probably will begin at about $15,000, while the midrange server will start at about $50,000.

In addition, Stratus will offer all three ftServer systems with Red Hat Linux support in September. The 4400 and 6200 already support the enterprise edition of Windows Server 2003, and the 2500 model will support the standard version of Windows in October.

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