Stratus Offers Free VMware Virtualization with Fault-Tolerant Servers

In a program designed to make it easier for SMEs to access virtualization technology, Stratus is offering VMware Infrastructure Foundation bundled free on its ftServer systems. The bundle, which normally costs $995, includes the ESX virtualization hypervisor and vCenter management tool. The move comes as software companies, including VMware and Marathon, look to bring fault-tolerance features to their software.

Stratus Technologies is shipping its fault-tolerant servers with VMware virtualization software bundled at no charge.

In a campaign called "We Feel Your Pain," Stratus is offering VMware Infrastructure Foundation virtualization technology-which includes the VMware ESX hypervisor and one agent license for vCenter virtual infrastructure management-with its Intel-based systems.

The program is designed to give businesses-particularly small or midsized enterprises, or larger enterprises' remote sites-easy access to virtualization technology on Stratus' fault-tolerant systems, Denny Lane, director of product marketing and management at Stratus, said in an interview.

The VMware Infrastructure Foundation technology normally sells for $995, Lane said.

Stratus' offer runs until June 28.

The company's fault-tolerant ftServer systems, which run both Microsoft Windows and Linux distributions, offer dual components that run in lockstep. If one component fails, the second one picks up the slack, with no loss of data or performance. The company has been working with VMware for more than two years to bring virtualization into the high-availability mix.

Stratus is a VMware reseller, and also offers the Standard and Enterprise editions of VMware Infrastructure, which includes VMotion and VMware HA (high availability).

Those companies that start with the free VMware Infrastructure Foundation have an upgrade path if they want it down the road, Lane said.

A number of vendors, including VMware and Marathon Technologies, are looking to marry fault-tolerance with their virtualization technology. VMware officials in September announced that they were going to add to the high-availability tool they already offer with a fault-tolerant feature-dubbed VMware Fault Tolerance-that creates a shadow copy of a virtual machine that will kick in if there is a hardware failure.

Marathon last year unveiled its EverRun VM software, which is designed to bring low-cost fault-tolerance to virtual machines.

Lane said that offering virtualization capabilities on its hardware platform gives Stratus a leg up on its software-based competitors.

"For availability, a purpose-built hardware platform will always give you better availability [than a software-based offering]," he said.

Software products work like a hardware cluster, and bring such requirements as shared disk resources, redundant applications and redundant operating systems. In VMware's case, it also requires its expensive Enterprise Edition of ESX. All this might work well for larger enterprise data centers, but not for smaller companies or remote locations.

With Stratus servers running VMware Infrastructure Foundation, businesses don't need a vCenter Server license-VMware includes a Web-based GUI and a single server management console for free-and there is no need for redundant servers. Because of that, there's also no need for for redundant application, OS or ESX licenses. In addition, the SAN and networking around the environment is simplified with the lack of redundant servers, Lane said.