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Stratus makes $50,000 zero downtime promise

Guarantees VMware performance

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Fault-tolerant server company Stratus is betting real money that its latest range of servers running VMware will never fail - for at least six months.

The company is backing its words with action: it has issued a promise that new and existing Stratus users will experience no unplanned downtime with its new top-of-the-range 2.93 GHz X5570 Xeon-based ftServer 6300 systems running VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise and Enterprise Plus.

Dubbed the zero downtime $50K guarantee, Stratus reckons it will pay the money in cash - or in product credit if you prefer - should unplanned downtime be caused by failure of either the server or virtualisation software during the first six months after being placed into production. The programme is open to all customers and runs until the end of 2010.

It's the first time Stratus has made that promise with VMware, and the cash "effectively covers the cost of the server," according to Stratus consultant Andy Bailey.

"We're seeing phase two of the move towards virtualisation," said Bailey. "That means more and more customers are wanting to run mission-critical enterprise-level databases inside a virtual machine, but haven't dared to so far. This could be the guarantee that helps swing that decision."

Stratus sells its highly fault-tolerant servers to those who need high levels of reassurance, such as those running critical applications in financial institutions, cloud infrastructure providers, healthcare and utilities. The company claims its VMware-toting customers include a global financial services firm, a major US government agency, one of the US's leading credit card processors and a 192-bed acute care hospital with 26 outlying care centres.

Stratus reckons all its servers now operating have delivered 99.99989 per cent uptime - that's under 31.6 seconds downtime in a year - and it knows this because the servers periodically phone home to inform Stratus that they're working as they should.

Stratus servers contains two of everything, from the CPU down, all working in lockstep. Part-owned by Intel among others, Stratus' links with Chipzilla mean that changes were made to server processors at design time to provide links that allow lock-stepping to occur. The Stratus-designed chipsets invoke a failover if a component fails. The server then phones Stratus and tells the support centre what action is needed to fix the problem - it can even order replacement parts automatically. Meanwhile system memory, the OS and applications are shielded, and execution continues as before. ®

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