Stratus Avance 1.5 - A Simple, but Powerful, Way to HA/DR for SMB

There, I got three acronyms into the title of a post!  That was just about as much fun as getting the Wall Street Journal to unknowingly publish a pun as part of a quote!

There, I got three acronyms into the title of a post!  That was just about as much fun as getting the Wall Street Journal to unknowingly publish a pun as part of a quote! Now that I've said that, let's get down to business.

Lee Kaminski, a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Stratus Technologies,  brought me up to date on Avance 1.5, Stratus' High Availability/Disaster Recovery/Disaster Prevention product that target's small to medium businesses. Lee and I have a lot in common and so it was fun chatting. I discovered that Lee's office is in an old DEC building that I often visited during my time as a DECie.

Here's what Stratus has to say about Avance 1.5

Your business is under pressure from all fronts: from regulations on your data management and record-keeping practices, to a shortage of skilled IT resources, to limited budgets that require you to do more with far less.

Stratus Technologies can provide some relief. With the introduction of Stratus Avance™ software you get an easy-to-use solution that reinvents high-availability and virtualization. Avance delivers lasting benefits you won't get from other HA solutions: lowering IT costs while improving application availability — without requiring specialized or incremental IT resources.

Automatic high availability. Avance software innovations enable ordinary x86 servers to deliver greater than 99.99% uptime —  automatically. Failure-prevention features protect your business against data corruption and loss. Complete online monitoring eliminates the need for onsite technical personnel. It all adds up to a rock-solid foundation for the built-in virtualization capabilities that are part of this one-of-a kind package.

Effortless virtualization. Avance software’s tightly integrated HA and virtualization technology translates to simplified server consolidation or hosting of multiple virtualized applications. Setting up a resilient, virtualized environment has never been easier. In fact, you can set up virtual Windows and Linux machines on an Avance system in minutes. And all of the virtual machines and applications in your solution remain fully protected by Avance HA technology.

Operational simplicity solidifies the advantages of Avance technology over other HA alternatives. Highly automated features facilitate easy set-up. Built-in error handling and the uniquely designed Avance remote management console make it effortless to monitor and support the virtual HA environment. The Windows and Linux virtual machines, physical x86 systems and network interfaces can all be managed from this single, web-based management console that runs within the Avance HA environment.

Snapshot Analysis

Stratus has always been a supplier of clever, powerful technology.  The company has a long track record of success offering truly fault tolerant hardware - first with their own proprietary systems and software and later supporting industry standard architectures and off-the-shelf operating systems.  The company proudly presents a counter on the landing page of their Website showing the calculated uptime of all of their installed servers around the world.  During my brief visit to the site, the counter was displaying 99.99987% uptime.  Let's see, that would work out to approximately 3.42 seconds of downtime during any given month. That's not even time for me to pour a cup of coffee.

The company realizes that special purpose hardware that tacks a couple of extra 9s on the end of the availability number is overkill for many workloads.  Clearly, smaller organizations often don't really need that level of availability. A solution that offers them 99.99% to 99.999% uptime is enough. What these organizations need is something that is easy to install, automatically creates a HA environment and doesn't require expensive storage virtualization solutions to work effectively. Avance is Stratus' answer to that set of requirements.

Stratus isn't alone in offering HA solutions to this target market. Both SteelEye and Virtual Iron offer interesting approaches that hope to provide similar capabilities. The company must help small organizations become aware of Stratus and its products, become interested in what its products can do for them, decide that what those products do would be helpful to them and, finally take action by contacting one of Stratus' partners or Stratus itself. A all order now.

Unasked For Shoot-from-the-hip Advice

Stratus, you've done a great job of conducting individual marketing programs to reach this market including a fairly easy to read Website, working through partners (both solution provers and hardware suppliers such as Dell and HP), offering short interesting white papers, presenting short videos on YouTube.com and Webinars.  I would suggest taking that one step further by doing orchestrating those efforts into a measurable single marketing campaign. Some of the following things would also be helpful:
  • Your videos appear too much like recordings of marketing presentations. While they are certainly informative, bold-face marketing videos are a turn off for many.  Why not present some of your customers in true-to-life situations showing their problems and how Stratus make them go away. It might even be worthwhile coming up with a fictional character, such as TIBCO's Greg the System Architect, as a spokes person.
  • The papers are too blandly technical.  While those are useful at points in the awareness-interest-desire-action cycle, a spicy mix of bold statements, humor and information might be better.
  • Interesting interviews with customers and partners placed on both your Website and in places such as YouTube.com or Metacafe.com would cast a wider net.

Generally, you've got all of the right things in play. Orchestrating them would be a wonderful next step.