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IDC: Fault-tolerant Wintel Servers Pressure Unix Vendors

Unix vendors will have a harder time justifying their servers to customers as industry-standard servers with built-in fault tolerance reach the market, according to the market analysis firm IDC.

IDC analysts made the prediction in a report released earlier this summer when Stratus Technologies introduced its fault-tolerant, two-processor servers that use Intel Xeon processors and run Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Stratus began circulating the IDC report this week.

"To date the NT server market has been built on volume sales, a low purchase price and the hope of 99.9 percent uptime," the IDC report says. "In the past users would often migrate to a Unix platform when better uptime for more complex, mission critical workloads was required."

The introduction of the Stratus ftServer 5200, with a cost starting at less than $30,000 for 99.999 percent uptime, puts pressure on Unix vendors.

Stratus needs to bring down the price slightly to make serious inroads into that Unix business, IDC contends. Price cuts represent a course that Stratus has publicly committed to pursuing.

IDC says the fast growth within the market is for servers priced at less than $25,000. But the analyst firm says getting prices below $10,000 is the key threshold.

"With advancements in the lower end of the server price bands such as fault tolerant systems priced well below $10,000, IDC believes that this may be a catalyst for further change in the server market," the report states.

In late June, about nine months behind schedule, Stratus released its first product that ported the company's proprietary fault-tolerant technology to Intel processors and the Windows 2000 operating system. NEC Corp. also released a similar system based on Stratus' technology with slightly lower-end technology and less service starting at about $20,000.

The Stratus servers build two Intel processors and memory modules into a system for every one that is required. So a one-processor Stratus server actually carries two processor-memory modules. If one processor-memory module fails, the other continues the transaction and workload without interruption.

Marathon Technologies also sells up-to-two-way-SMP fault-tolerant systems running Windows 2000 Server.

About the Author

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