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NEC unveils fault-tolerant Linux server

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

NEC Corp has announced the European release of its first fault-tolerant Linux server, the Express5800/320La, which has been developed in conjunction with fault tolerant server specialist Stratus Technologies Inc.

Tokyo, Japan-based NEC's two-way Intel Corp processor-based dual redundancy server uses the same hardware architecture as Stratus's ftServer and its own Express5800 Windows fault-tolerant servers. The architecture enables all processing and I/O commands to run on redundant components in lockstep with fault-tolerant failover in the case of module failure.

The product's Linux operating system is based on Red Hat Inc's Linux 7.1 but features "significant changes" to the kernel, device drivers, storage management and memory management to enable it to support the fault tolerant features. NEC's UK business development director, Paul Evans, stated that the modifications made to the Linux operating system would be released to the open source community via NEC's involvement in the OSDL Open Source Development Lab.

The development of Linux for the fault-tolerant architecture was begun by Maynard, Massachusetts-based Stratus well over a year ago, but was completed by NEC, according to Evans, in the company's US and Tokyo labs. Recently Stratus stated that it did not believe that Linux was ready for fault-tolerant computing, but Evans said that NEC had released the product in response to customer demand from Unix and Linux users for cheaper fault-tolerant hardware.

Evans said that NEC has calculated that the server is up to 80% less expensive than proprietary Unix fault tolerant hardware, which is usually pitched at the high end of the market. While the first Linux Express5800 is a low-end server, it is the first in a series of releases, said Evans.

At just 17,299 pounds ($27,079), the product is around 7% cheaper than NEC's equivalent Windows 2000 basic server, said Evans, although he stated that the real cost savings are made in the applications and services deployed on top of the server, especially in comparison with clustered architectures, which require specialized applications and services.

Also scheduled for imminent release in the US and Asia, the Express5800/320La is one of two versions of the product due from Stratus OEMs. In September Stratus's director of product and technology EMEA, David Chalmers, said that one of the OEMs is an existing partner and one is not, and would be unlikely to admit that its developments were based on Stratus technology.

With long-term Stratus partner NEC the first out of the door with its Linux fault-tolerant server, keep your eyes peeled another vendor with a similar product. While the vendor may be unlikely to admit it, the chances are that if it's a dual-redundancy fault-tolerant server running on Intel hardware, the design originated with Stratus and NEC.

© Computerwire

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