Marathon eyes a wider server market

EverRun HA is its third product since the company emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2004.

Marathon Technology introduces EverRun HA, its third product since it emerged from bankruptcy protection and reinvented itself as a software company in 2004.

As director of technical systems for the radiation medicine program at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Terry Michaelson is intimately familiar with the idea of fault tolerance.

"The radiation medicine program at Princess Margaret is one of the largest in the world and one of the most advanced," he says. "We need systems that give us maximum uptime. . . . There are a lot of moving parts in a radiation therapy treatment, and you want the session to continue. In case of a failure, you don't want the session to stop."

To get that kind of reliability, Michaelson brought in servers from Marathon Technologies. Five years after acquiring those systems, Michaelson is upgrading his hardware to support updates to his application package and plans to take advantage of new high-availability software from Marathon.

EverRun HA, introduced last week, is the third product from Marathon since it emerged from bankruptcy protection and reinvented itself as a software company in 2004. EverRun HA creates highly available environments for Windows applications and supports a range of industry-standard hardware platforms.

EverRun HA offers more flexibility for the underlying hardware than Marathon's first software product, EverRun FT, which was introduced as FTvirtual Server in 2004. The third product Marathon introduced is EverRun SplitSite, which provides for business continuity by enabling a pair of servers to be as much as 100 miles apart.

Both EverRun HA and EverRun FT use a virtualization layer so that a pair of servers presents itself as a single system with one IP address. EverRun FT, however, provides true fault tolerance with two physical servers operating in lockstep.

EverRun HA, on the other hand, provides high availability with the application operating on just one server, while a second server connected by Gigabit Ethernet stands at the ready to pick up the slack should a failure occur. The servers do not have to be identical. EverRun HA is more scalable and can run on systems with more than two processors, the limit for EverRun FT.

With greater reliability, EverRun FT is priced at $16,000, while EverRun HA starts at $7,500. Marathon executives say the lower-priced, more-flexible EverRun HA will help them bring high availability to a wider audience. Analysts agree.

"The HA product is a way Marathon can sell a subset of the functionality of [EverRun FT] for less money," says Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata. "That way they can reach out to a wider group of customers."

Marathon introduced its software as a way to provide high availability and fault tolerance for Windows applications without requiring operating system or application modification. The software competes primarily with clustering software, which often requires complex management, including application modification to make sure workloads are cluster-aware.

"EverRun HA takes a clustering approach but works somewhat differently," Haff says. "The HA product is intended to be a more-transparent form of clustering with similar benefits and similar availability to clustering.

"The idea is that there are fewer application dependencies, because the applications themselves don't need to know that they are failing-over their services."

Redirection: Marathon Technology's EverRun HA

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