SteelEye DataKeeper for Windows Server 2008 R2

Keeping things alive - SteelEye DataKeeper for Windows Server 2008 R2 launched.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

I've watched SteelEye for quite a number of years as they changed from a clustering/high availability software (LifeKeeper) supplier focused solely on UNIX to a supplier of a number of technologies for Windows, Linux and virtual environments.  Recently the company added DataKeeper for Windows Server 2008 R2 to their portfolio. It is clear that availability and reliability needs to be a focus for business critical applications.

Here's how SteelEye describes DataKeeper for Windows Server 2008 R2

DataKeeper, a highly optimized data replication solution for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, is available in two versions. The first delivers data replication services as an extension to Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, while a second version of DataKeeper Cluster Edition further extends the capabilities of Microsoft Cluster Services and Windows Server Failover Clustering. Both editions support real-time replication of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V virtual machines between physical servers across either LAN or WAN connections.

By keeping a running Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V virtual machine synchronized with a standby VM in an alternate location, DataKeeper enables disaster recovery without the data loss typically associated with traditional backup and restore technology. Real-time continuous replication of active Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V VMs ensures that in the event of a disaster, the standby server can be activated with minimal to no data loss.

DataKeeper Cluster Edition allows administrators to build "shared-nothing" and geographically dispersed Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V clusters. By eliminating the requirement for shared storage, the administrator can protect against both planned and unplanned downtime for servers and storage. The use of DataKeeper with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V VMs allows for non-disruptive disaster recovery testing. By simply accessing the replicated VMs in the disaster recovery site, the administrator can segment a virtual network separate from the production network and start the replicated VMs for disaster recovery testing. An administrator can perform complete disaster recovery testing without impacting the production site.

In addition to support for Hyper-V clusters, SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition enables multi-site clusters for all other Microsoft cluster resource types such as SQL Server, Exchange, File/Print and DHCP. SteelEye DataKeeper Cluster Edition reduces the cost of deploying clusters by eliminating the need for a SAN and increases the availability of the application by eliminating the single point of a failure that the SAN represents in a traditional cluster.

Additional information about SteelEye DataKeeper:

  • No limitations on hardware configurations or replication distance
  • No requirement for a dedicated replication channel
  • Delivers asynchronous/synchronous replication, non-disruptive disaster recovery testing, network throttling and data compression
  • Compatible with the following versions of Windows Server:
    • 32-bit/64-bit Windows Server 2003 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter, 32-bit/64-bit Windows Server 2003 R2
    • Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter, 32-bit/64-bit Windows Server 2008
    • Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter, 32-bit/64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter

  • Allows for testing of patches on replicated VMs before applying to production servers
  • Licensed to a physical machine running Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. In general, pricing is per server and unlimited use.

SteelEye DataKeeper support for Windows Server 2008 R2 is now available to customers, coinciding with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 in mid-October.

Snapshot analysis

There are a number of ways to assure that a business critical workload remains available regardless of outages. My colleagues at the Uptime Institute focus on the design of datacenters with sufficient levels of redundancy to ride out a failure of any system, power supply or cooling, whether planned or unplanned. This planning is necessary but not completely sufficient as that planning typically is focused solely on creating a datacenter facility having sufficient redundancy to meet business requirements.  It doesn't focus on various software tools and application design approaches that introduce redundancy into the application architecture.

What becomes challenging is that reliability has been the focus of different suppliers for each layer of an application; the user interface, application rules processing, data management, storage management and network management.  This means that an amazing array of different approaches and tools are available.  Adding virtualization technology into the mix brings in a number of other suppliers and products.

SteelEye, while having a long track record of success in creating reliable environments, faces competitive pressure from suppliers such as Citrix, eGenera, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Stratus, VMware and a veritable herd of others. It has not been able to define a brand image that is universally recognized nor does it have the resources to "out shoot" the others in a marketing battle.

Unasked for Shoot-from-the-Hip Advice

SteelEye, your technology appears powerful and useful, but it is very unlikely that the majority of IT decision makers have heard of you.  If they don't know you and your products, they're unlikely to consider your product.  If they don't consider your products, they certainly won't select them.

You need to be quite a bit more creative in how you bring your message out. It appears that you've stuck with the traditional tools that include sending out press releases, attending industry events, offering private consultations, etc. Have you considered submitting entertaining videos to Youtube?  How about offering a podcast series that offers insight into what your customers are doing with their technology and how it has meant the difference between smooth operations and embarrassing failures?

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