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Fault-Tolerant Options Expand with everRun MX

One of the pillars of virtualization is the ability to abstract servers from hardware to provide additional availability. Of course, infrastructure demands continue to increase and we seek to deliver high availability or even fault tolerance beyond the basic virtual machine. A number of solutions are available for virtual workloads.

The fault-tolerant space has three mainstream players: the VMware Fault Tolerance virtual machine feature with vSphere, Neverfail (which has an OEM relationship for VMware's vCenter Server Heartbeat feature) and Marathon Technologies. Neverfail aligns with VMware, and Marathon aligns with Citrix.

Since the middle of the last decade, Marathon Technologies has offered solutions from HA to FT for Windows workloads before virtualized servers were mainstream in the datacenter. Back when I worked in the supply chain software industry, I used the everRun HA solution to replace fault-tolerant hardware solutions such as the NEC Express5800/ft or Stratus ftServer. Even back then, Marathon allowed customers to utilize commodity hardware for these HA and FT solutions.

Marathon recently released everRun MX, which provides a flexible offering to deliver FT workloads on commodity hardware. everRun MX can work for those who want to deploy a robust solution for a few workloads without a huge investment. everRun MX can use direct-attached storage or shared storage, making it price competitive if a traditional SAN is not involved. I've always thought it is very tough to provide a robust, highly available virtualized environment from small footprints such as a remote office.

With everRun MX, a base configuration starts at $10,000 and allows administrators to run a pair of servers of any configuration (core/sockets/memory) and includes one year of support and maintenance. The servers must have Intel processors. You can run everRun MX on dissimilar hardware, but they should be comparable. everRun MX uses the term Metal Pool, which would loosely equate to a cluster of virtual machines running with FT capabilities.

everRun MX

Figure 1. everRun MX allows a collection of virtual machines to function in a fault tolerant mode on commodity hardware. (Click image to view larger version.)

You might be asking: How well would this type of configuration be received within the greater software landscape? As virtualization customers, we go through this battle with new software titles to see if the software vendor supports their product being run on a virtual machine. For an architecture like this, it's not as widely embraced as is a VMware virtual machine as a supported platform. But Marathon does offer 24x7 worldwide support in addition to an extensive partner ecosystem. I haven't used Marathon products in a while, but everRun MX seems to bring more to the table for the customer seeking value and features.

Let me know if you want to see more of everRun MX and I'll follow up with an evaluation!

Posted by Rick Vanover on 10/07/2010 at 12:48 PM


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