Fault-Tolerant Yet Affordable Servers

by Andy Patrizio

NEC's new server addition delivers constant uptime and improved disaster recovery for less than $20,000.

NEC Corporation of America today announced a fault-tolerant server it claims is simpler to deploy and a whole lot cheaper than other solutions. The NEC Fault Tolerant Express5800/300 series promises 99.999 percent uptime, the vaunted "five nines" of uptime that only the most reliable systems claim, for under $20,000.

NEC also announced data mirroring synchronization cluster software, called NEC ExpressCluster, that offers wide-area network (WAN) protection against business disruption due to system outages. All told, the Fault Tolerant Express5800/300 offers less than five minutes of downtime per year.

"There are two things we think people want: To eliminate downtime and the lowest possible TCO. We feel those are the most import elements to decision makers today," Ken Hertzler, director of product marketing at NEC America, told InternetNews.com.

With virtualization and the move toward cloud computing, high availability is becoming more visible to customers, and some industries have a very high cost of down time that can be measured in the millions.

NEC's FT Express5800/300 is the sixth generation of fault-tolerant servers that consist of two redundant servers inside one box, both using Intel Xeon 5500 Nehalem-EP processors. It has fully redundant hot-swappable server modules running in lockstep, managed by a special processor that keeps the two in constant sync.

If one module fails, the other takes over with no interruption in performance because its memory contents were identical to the other. The internals are hot swappable, so the dead hardware can be removed and replaced without taking down the server.

With redundancy implemented at the hardware level, only one operating system, one software application, one IP address and one MAC address are needed even though the applications literally run on two complete server modules.

NEC is offering free warranty repairs, where all the customer needs to do is remove the defective module and send it in. When the replacement module arrives, slide it into the computer and it's is synched and brought entirely up to speed with the module that's running.

NEC's software cluster solution, ExpressCluster, provides high availability application clustering with support for many popular packaged applications, allowing them to run in a cluster over a LAN. It offers fast failover and data synchronization so in the event of a total failure, a system can be restarted in literally one second.

The software, along with the controller chip in the server, monitor the system constantly, looking for signs of a failure. At the first sign of failure, data can be copied over to a backup server, even over a WAN.

The FT Express 5800/300 starts at $17,000 and goes up, depending on how decked out it is.

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Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

This article was originally published on Tuesday Oct 6th 2009
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