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Taneja Blog / Software Defined/Virtualized Infrastructure

Fault Tolerance in the Virtual Era

I spent the first decade of my career building high performance real-time market data systems for Wall St. There, the battle over which technology approach provided the most up-time often came down to expensive fault tolerant hardware vs. grids or clusters of lower-cost servers, with FT achieved through server redundancy and an expensive software orchestration layer. Both approaches had and have zealous defenders.

In the virtual world, we have an execution platform in the hypervisor that acts like both a hardware and software platform, depending on how you tilt your head. And, as companies virtualize more tier-1 critical workloads, I’m hearing more interest in FT—in particular, many wonder if FT hardware and/or software paired with virtualization can deliver more affordable FT for more business workloads. If so, which is better? Cheaper? More reliable?

There’s good news on all fronts. In addition to hypervisor-layer fault tolerance (such as VMware FT, which leverages VMware HA clusters for single virtual processor workloads), FT leader Marathon recently updated its flagship everRun product to support SMP and multi-core Microsoft apps—more cores means that more power-hungry apps can be protected. Dave Marshall and I talked about Marathon over at InfoWorld a couple of weeks ago.

And on the hardware front, NEC’s Express5800 FT server line now supports Hyper-V, delivering affordable, multi-hypervisor continuous availability that should be attractive to Microsoft shops who thought FT was out of reach. Affordable FT hardware? Yep.

With FT solutions maturing rapidly, available from multiple sources, and a healthy competitive environment, the TCO for an FT solution is more attractive than it was even a couple of years ago. We encourage customers we speak with to take another look at the 3 and 5-year TCO for FT solutions—they’re not your father’s FT.

  • Premiered: 10/26/10
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Fault Tolerance Marathon NEC Virtualization VMWare


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