NEC Delivering Stratus Fault-Tolerant System

Long-awaited Windows 2000 servers using Stratus Technologies' fault-tolerant designs were formally unveiled for the Japanese market. The servers from NEC Corp. signal the highly touted technology is close to reaching the U.S. market.

NEC launched its NEC Express5800/ft Series on Tuesday with shipments scheduled for June 29. Stratus will sell NEC's implementation of its own technology as an entry-level version in its ftServer line this summer.

Stratus announced plans in early 2000 to bring its fault-tolerance experience with the Unix platform to Windows 2000 and the Intel architecture. Originally, the company intended to roll out two-processor fault-tolerant servers in September 2000 and follow those with four-processor servers the following month.

A number of delays held Stratus back, and the company's own versions of its technology have not shipped. NEC licenses Stratus' technology for systems NEC produces on its own.

The Stratus technology puts two physical processors and physical memory chips on the system board for every logical processor. So a one-processor server actually carries two processor-memory modules. When one of the modules fails, the other carries on, completing any pending transactions and keeping the server running while system administrators repair the failed module.

At an extra cost, customers will be able to select three-module systems as well. NEC will initially offer just the dual-module redundancy, with three-module systems planned for release this fall.

Stratus systems, when they ship, will compete with failover clusters of Windows servers. Stratus also faces competition from Marathon Technologies Inc., which has been shipping fault-tolerant Windows NT Server kits for several years and just began shipping a Windows 2000 version this month.

The NEC systems come in an 8U rack-mount version or a stand-alone version. They will ship with 800 MHz Pentium III processors. The systems start at less than $20,000, according to Stratus. They can be configured with up to two logical processors (four physical processors).

NEC aims to sell 8,000 units in Japan over the next 12 months.

Stratus plans to sell the NEC systems as the ftServer 3200. Its own products will be the ftServer 5200 (two logical processors) and the ftServer 6500 (four logical processors).

There will be a few differences in the way Stratus sells the ftServer 3200 domestically from how it sells its own versions. While the NEC box runs standard Pentium processors, the higher-end Stratus boxes will carry Xeons. Stratus also will connect its 5200 and 6500 models to a remote service network that will trigger alarms at Stratus headquarters when system components fail. That serviceability network won't be included with the 3200.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.