Stratus Technologies is pushing into managed services, where it hopes its expertise in high availability will attract customers in such industries as financial services, e-commerce and manufacturing.Stratus Technologies is pushing into managed services, where it hopes its expertise in high availability will attract customers in such industries as financial services, e-commerce and manufacturing, where continuous uptime is critical.At its Stratus World user conference in Las Vegas this week, the company expects to launch its Solutions Services Group, which will work with partners to help customers create, deploy and manage IT environments that are always on - from the server to the network to the applications. This summer, Stratus plans to unveil its Continuous Availability service platform, which is designed to give customers greater insight into and control over their systems (see graphic below).The managed services are a departure for Stratus, which has offered professional services in the past, but for the most part limited to the deployment of its fault-tolerant systems. Now Stratus will offer its fault-tolerant expertise across the IT environment.Continuous availabilityStratus' new service platform builds on its 25 years of experience with fault-tolerant hardware to:\u2022Ensure infrastructure integrity. Stratus engineers work with customers to assess and design computing and networking components to ensure critical business processes stay up and running.\u2022Monitor performance. Remote services oversee workflow guidelines based on IT Information Library rules, assuring performance meets certain levels; an online portal offers real-time information on application performance data security, data management and data availability.\u2022Continuously update environment. Round-the-clock proactive monitoring to ensure IT environments are updated for utmost reliability.Hotel Booking Solutions, which handles availability and reservations for some of the world's leading hotels and travel Web sites, is a Windows shop that has used a Stratus ftServer as a fault-tolerant platform for its database for about three years. In the third quarter of last year, the company, which co-locates in Equinix data centers, began looking for a managed-services provider as it planned to move data centers and prepared for expansion."I wanted to move up to a managed-service approach and basically let our company focus on what we do best, which is writing software, and get out of the business of handling big production IT," says Greg Berman, vice president of engineering for the Atlanta-based company.The company was drawn to Stratus hardware because the vendor partners with Microsoft to provide 99.999% uptime on Windows. Discovering that Stratus could also offer remote managed services for a continuously available business environment came as a surprise, Berman says."We went down a path that included IBM, EDS and other household names," Berman says. "Stratus was able to take our network design, they were able to take our overall Equinix design and run it through their models to tell us whether it was going to hold up or not."The key advantage with Stratus is that the company zeroed in on the 99.999% availability that the online business needed, Berman says. "They were the only people from a consulting perspective that could walk us down that path to validate a lot of the design assumptions that were made," he says.Stratus focused on the network architecture, keeping in mind factors such as security and disaster recovery to create a design that would keep data secure yet be able to scale, Berman says.Today, Hotel Booking Solutions handles about 50 requests per second, but that could grow to as many as 3,500 requests per second as the company expands over the next few years, he says."I have to be able to support, from a high-availability perspective, new features and functions that will drive our transaction rate through the roof," Berman says. "With Stratus, I'm now able to do that without adding IT staff."Donna Scott, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says Stratus' services are worth a look by companies that don't have in-house resources to monitor critical business applications and infrastructure.She says the move is a good one for Stratus, but notes that the company still faces challenges."The biggest challenge is scaling the service . . . which generally requires more of a standardized computing environment across many customers," she says. "If they are able to bring a greater homogeneity to their clients, and standardize their own processes, they will be more profitable than if every client has different monitoring and management requirements."