Andrew Barnes, SVP of Corporate Development; and Jim Battenberg, Director Product Marketing; of the Neverfail Group and I had an interesting conversation about how the increasing focus many organizations have on deploying virtualization technologies in their industry standard system-based solutions often also includes an increase in the potential problems associated with an outage.
They often don't have a plan for an outage nor do they deploy the tools that could either prevent or significantly reduce the impact outages may have. In the rush to deploy virtualization technology, some organizations don't consider the fact that an operational, administrative or system failure has a far reaching impact. Such failures don't just effect a single application or workload. All of the applications, application components or system services being provided by that physical system and all of the virtual systems it is supporting would experience an outage as well.
What's the Neverfail Group?Neverfail, having started life as a disaster recovery consultancy, has developed tools and processes to help their customers create an environment that is, in their terms, "continuously available."
They've created products that, in conjunction with redundant hardware configurations, allow Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft File Server, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), RIM's BlackBerry Server for Windows, Lotus Domino for Windows, and a couple of other Windows-based server products to ride out an outage without the folks using those systems experiencing a service outage.
They've also created tools that allow an organization to add HA/failover attributes to their own applications as well. The company's most recent product focuses on VMware's VirtualCenter. As more organizations rely on that software, it could become a single point of failure in an environment. Neverfail has developed technology to keep that function going in the case of an outage as well. For more information on that product, please visit the Neverfail Group's website.
Snapshot AnalysisNeverfail faces stiff challenges from established players in the market. Players in the areas of access virtualization, application virtualization, processing virtualization, storage virtualization, network virtualization and management of virtualized environments have all developed capabilities that would help an organization avoid the effects of an outage, regardless of whether it was caused by a physical problem or an administrative or operational problem. These solutions often support a number of different types of systems and a number of different operating environments.
Although it appears that the company has thoughtfully addressed the issues an organization would face when trying to create a "continuously available" environment, they've chosen to only address only the needs of a Windows-based solution. While this narrow focus would allow Neverfail to offer HA solutions to small to medium sized organizations that have a homogeneous Windows-based IT infrastructure, such a focus won't address the needs of larger organizations. I think this is either a significant oversight on their part or the beginning of a broader focus of a supplier who is only beginning to enter the market. Since the company has been around for quite some time, I suspect that the former rather than the latter is the case..
Datacenters run by most medium and large organizations are a veritable museum of computing technology that includes mainframes, midrange systems, industry standard systems and a supporting cast of networking, storage, power and cooling systems. Quite a number of operating systems are found there. Only small companies and companies in the lower end of the "small to medium business" segment have an exclusive focus on a single operating system.
This means that many organizations would see Neverfail's products as "yet another tool that provides some interesting capabilities but, don't address the whole problem."
If, on the other hand, an organization has chosen to deploy only Windows, Neverfail's technology could be the solution they were seeking.