Marathon to bring fault tolerant wares to WS2008, XenServer

Microsoft and Marathon Technologies announced on Friday that they plan to integrate Marathon's fault-tolerant software with Windows Server 2008 R2, and, later, Hyper-V. Interestingly, Marathon's fault tolerant technology, which has been available for Windows Server for more than 15 years, is currently only available for Windows Server 2003. Meanwhile Marathon will be shipping a version of its fault tolerant software for Citrix XenServer months before the Hyper-V version is available. Announcements such as this are yet another indication that first release software from Microsoft is more like a glorified beta than a ready-for-enterprise-prime-time release.

In any case, Microsoft and Marathon did officially promise that Windows Server 2008 customers will be able to use Marathon's everRun software. The WS2008 version is expected to be available when WS2008 R2 becomes available in the second quarter, said Gary Phillips, president and CEO of Marathon, in an interview with ChannelWeb. He also promised the Hyper-V version in about 12 months.

WS2008 Enterprise and Datacenter Editions do offer innate high availability options, via clustering. (Plus, Microsoft also sells Windows Server 2008 HPC, a high-performance edition specifically targeted for clustered supercomputer-like applications). However, the general mode of operation with clustering is that, if a server fails, the others need to be started. With fault tolerant software even that short bit of downtime is eliminated. With everRun, users get two options of fault tolerance. They can set their systems for component-level fault tolerance -- which moves apps in case of a hardware failure. Or they can opt for system-level fault tolerance which offers workload-level protection by mirroring two servers.

Just how much failover support will a Windows site need? WS2008 R2 is already expected to ship with a version of Hyper-V that includes Live Migration, which is intended to allow virtual apps within a clustered environment to be moved from one hypervisor to another without skipping a beat. In the meantime, Marathon Technologies isn't waiting on Microsoft before it makes its claim on adding fault tolerance to virtual servers, it says. Customers who want to deploy its component level or system level fault tolerance will be able to use everRun with Citrix XenServer in Q2 of 2009.

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