Stratus Launches Latest Ultra-High-Availability Servers

On Monday, Stratus launched the latest generation of its ultra-high-availability Stratus ftServer family, based around the Intel Xeon E5 “Sandy Bridge” architecture.

The new family is made up of three products, all in a 4U configuration: the ftServer 2700, 4700, and 6400. Although the company isn’t releasing prices, Stratus director of product marketing and management Denny Lane said that the low-end 270 should cost about $13,000.

Stratus’ claim to fame is that its fault-tolerant servers are engineered to rarely (if ever) go down. The company places an uptime counter on its home page stating the average amount of uptime recorded by each server in the last 60 days; at press time, the availability was 99.99988 percent, which works out to roughly less than two minutes of downtime per year.

That’s because the each server is redundant, mirroring each component across a high-density backplane. ASICs on each side ensure that should a server CPU fail, for example, even transactions in flight are kept alive, in part by only sourcing Intel CPUs—not AMD—that are deterministic in nature, meaning that they calculate not only the same correct response but do so during the same time slice. The other device then handles the server’s workload while affected machine “phones home” to Stratus, and the company drop-ships a replacement part to the facility. Lane claimed that the process was simple enough for a police chief to replace an affected part to prevent an E911 server from going down.

“Missing one call could mean somebody’s life,” he said. “You also have issues of compliance, such as HIPAA… the bar is continually higher for the retention of data, and the insurance that you don’t lose any data.”

Most customers use Stratus for a small, important portion of their servers, he added:

“There’s a very large credit card company that did 100 percent of their authorization servers—you probably don’t leave home without it—they have lots of servers, but all the ones that are doing credit card processing, meaning all the mainframes, all the ones that are coming in from the credit-card swipes, all of those are fault-tolerant Linux Ft servers. But that might be less than 1 percent of the servers in that big multi-national organization.”

Each of the new Stratus servers contains 6 Gb SAS, 4 USB 2.0 connections, and a DVD R/W slot, plus 8 2.5-inch slots for hard drives or SSDs.

The ft 2700 contains one Intel 1.8-GHz E5-2603 Xeon quad-core chip, with 8 DIMMs for a maximum of 32 GB of RAM plus 2 Gigabit Ethernet slots and a pair of 4-lane Gen2 PCI Express slots along with a VTM Gbit Ethernet slot. The mid-range 4700 increases the number of processors to two, and the memory slots to 16, for a total of 256 GB.

The high-end 6400, meanwhile, includes a pair of 2.6-GHz E5-2670 eight-core chips and, in addition to the specs of the 4700, integrates a pair of 10-Gbit Ethernet connections plus a pair of x8 Gen 2 slots.

Both Windows Server 2008 R2 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are supported today, with VMware being added by year’s end, Lane said.


Image: asharkyu/