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Stratus punts freebie VMware virt software

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Times are tough out there, no doubt, and fault tolerant server maker Stratus Technologies feels your pain. That's why the company has decided to pay for a license to VMware's Virtual Infrastructure 3 Foundation Edition for customers who are buying its ftServer iron.

Fault tolerant servers have never been cheap because they are not high volume products and the electronics and software they include to keep two physical servers and their software stacks in absolute lockstep take money to create, test, and support. And in an economic downturn, selling five or six nines of system availability gets a bit harder than during boom times, for sure.

And the fact that Microsoft is giving is Hyper-V hypervisor away and now Citrix Systems is doing so, too, including some live migration and management tools to boot, is giving customers an option for cheaper - if less resilient - virtual machine-based availability.

In December, hoping to catch the wave of VMware's popularity as a server virtualization platform on x64 iron, Stratus announced that it would support VMware's low-end VI3 Foundation Edition (which costs $995 per server) as well as the midrange Standard Edition (which costs $2,995 per server) on the ftServer machines. The ftServers are two-socket x64 servers using Intel Xeon DP processors that are co-developed with NEC.

Since January 2008, Stratus has supported the high-end VI3 Enterprise Edition on the ftServers, but as the company has learned from experience, having spent something like $27,000 for two mirrored servers with 20 GB of usable main memory, customers were hesitant to spend an additional $5,750 to get VI3 Enterprise to do virtual machine partitioning. Even if they did want to drive up utilization and use virtualization to get lots of different workloads on these expensive boxes.

Well, given the economic meltdown, it seems that even asking ftServer customers to shell out an additional $995 for the basic VI3 Foundation stack is too much, so Status is bundling it in for free starting this week (and presumably paying VMware for it).

This deal is only available until June 28, according to Stratus, and only on its ftServer 4400 and ftServer 6200 families of machines. The ftServer 4400 and 4410 machines come with one or two quad-core Xeon processors (that is logical processors, the physical processor count is double this) running at 2 GHz and six disk drives of varying capacity. The ftServer 6200 and 6210 machines come with two faster 3 GHz quad-core Xeons and cost more money. The 4400 and 6200 models support 24 GB of memory, while the 4410 and 6210 models support up to 32 GB of memory.

The freebie VI3 Foundation license works out to about a 4 per cent discount off the price of a configured machine, unless VMware is mean enough to charge for an ESX Server license on both machines. (Microsoft doesn't do that for Windows on the ftServers, since only one machine is doing work at a time.)

Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and Red Hat Linux 5 are the supported operating systems for these ftServers. Obviously, once you have ESX Server 3.5 running on the ftServer box, you can load any operating system you want inside of virtual machine partitions, but these two operating systems are the only ones that Stratus provides tech support for. Windows Server 2008 support was expected in January of this year for the ftServer machines, but has not yet been announced. And support for Hyper-V is expected to some later this year. ®

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