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Marathon Cozies up to Microsoft

Marathon Technologies has been selling kits to make Windows NT Server fault tolerant since 1997. This week, the Boxborough, Mass.-based company finally entered into a formal partnership with Microsoft Corp.

The agreement allows Marathon to resell Windows 2000 and Exchange 2000 in its pre-configured "Assured Availability" systems.

More important to Marathon are other terms of the agreement.

"We now have an executive on campus in Redmond. We have access to source code. We have access to their lab," says Craig Jon Anderson, vice president of market development for Marathon.

Anderson acknowledges that it's always made people curious that Marathon did not have a formal relationship with Microsoft. Marathon's technology groups four Windows NT or Windows 2000 servers together to act as one logical server for about the cost of a two-node Wolfpack cluster. The company's main channel was to sell the kits to OEMs or resellers who would install complete systems at customers sites, eliminating the need for Marathon to resell Microsoft software directly.

A new approach of selling pre-configured solutions sized for specific scenarios means Marathon will need to resell Microsoft's OS, Anderson says.

"We are pleased that Maraton is bringing its Assured Availability solution to the Windows 2000 platform," Michael Stephenson, Microsoft's lead product manager of Windows Servers, said in a statement. Marathon began shipping Windows 2000 Server systems this month.

"This gives customers who need 100 percent uptime from their servers another option at a great price," Stephenson said.

The partnership is important to Marathon because it lends credibility to its approach to fault-tolerance. Marathon rival Stratus Computer Corp., which plans to roll out a fault-tolerant Windows server systems of its own next month, has been getting marketing help from Microsoft for some time.

That Microsoft's Stephenson noted the cost of the systems is a boon to Marathon as well. Marathon's systems are based on vanilla Windows 2000 Server as opposed to the higher margin Advanced Server and Datacenter Server operating systems that Stratus plans to sell. --

About the Author

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

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