MS brings fault-tolerance software to Windows Server, Hyper-V

By Bridget Botelho
Tuesday, 13 January, 2009

Microsoft now has an agreement with Marathon Technologies to bring everRun fault-tolerance software to Windows Server-based applications and in the future, for Hyper-V virtualisation . With everRun software, virtual machines (VMs) and Windows applications run in lockstep on two servers. When hardware on one server fails, failover software enables applications to continue to run.

As IT shops delve further into virtualisation for mission-critical applications, they have turned to failover software such as everRun to reduce application downtime.

"We are seeing more people relying on Windows Server to host mission-critical apps, beginning with Windows Server 2000," said Mike Schutz, the director of product management Windows Server Division at Microsoft. "With server consolidation and virtualisation, the impact of downtime is even greater than ever."

But that doesn't mean every IT shop needs the same level of failover – or that it needs failover software at all, virtualisation analysts emphasise. It depends on the kind of applications a company runs.

How everRun failover software works
Marathon's everRun currently works with Windows Server 2003, and by Q2 of 2009, it will support Windows Server 2008. The two companies will also introduce everRun technology to a version of Hyper-V following the Windows Server 2008 R2 release, which is currently in beta, said Schutz. The release date has not been disclosed.

In the meantime, Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V users can use Windows' fail-over clustering capabilities.

Also, for those customers that require a higher level of availability, Marathon everRun is already available for Citrix's XenServer, which supports the most recent Windows versions. Under that model, everRun VM software is installed on top of a hypervisor, and a Web-based management console that allows users to view VMs and choose which VMs to protect. The software protects VMs by creating redundant VMs and synchronised mirroring of the network, storage and data. The software works with any Windows Server application. Ultimately, Microsoft's and Marathon's goal is to offer joint customers the ability to protect applications with different levels of failover.

Level 1 offers basic failover clustering, as provided by the Enterprise and Datacenter Editions of Windows Server 2008. Level 2 provides component-level fault tolerance, which protects against the failure of an individual CPU or network card, for example; the list price is an estimated $3,000 per server and covers unlimited VMs. Finally, Level 3 offers system-level fault tolerance and protects against any kind of failure by maintaining applications and memory in their pre-failure state. This level will begin shipping in April, and will have an estimated price of about $8,000 per server, according to Marathon.

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