Stratus Technologies Avance 3.1 simplifies business continuity

Small to medium organizations, like larger organizations, face the need to reduce their costs while offering their customers competitive products and services. Increasingly these are based upon information technology. As they become more reliant on this technology, making it absolutely reliable becomes an imperative. Stratus offers Avance to target this need. Avance 3.1 adds load balancing and faster recovery from system failure.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Stratus Technologies just launched Avance 3.1, a new version of its high availability/business continuity software. Avance targets the needs of small to medium businesses (SMB). Rather than suggesting a clustered system or a system based solely on moving virtual machines around, Stratus offers an approach based upon what it learned creating its ftServer line of continuous processing systems to create a simple solution.

What is Avance?

Avance 3.1 is a software product from Stratus that works to proactively detect and prevent system outages. Its dual server, real time architecture makes it possible to keep applications on the air even if a component fails. Applications need not be modified or re-engineered.

Avance works to prevent the most common cause of downtime, human error. Avance software automatically sets up and manages itself — greatly reducing the opportunity for human error and thereby improving the uptime and reliability of your infrastructure. It will even “phone home” if needed. This removes the requirement for on-site IT support. IT experts can address any performance or server-fault issues over the Internet.

It also supports the most common industry standard environments, Windows and Linux. To reduce cost and complexity, Avance provides high availability without also requiring external shared storage to work. Shared storage area network (SAN)-based storage is supported, of course, if desired.

What's new in version 3.1?

Avance 3.1 added load balancing so that both systems can be used for independent tasks while still providing continuous availability. Stratus says that its new load balancing facility speeds VM migration times, distributes disk reads across both nodes for improved read performance, doubles network bandwidth for writing to disk, and accelerates synchronous write replications.

Stratus points out that in the event of a sudden catastrophic failure of one node, dividing workload between the servers reduces potential risk to business operations. VMs on the surviving node continue to run without interruption. Real-time data synchronization between the two nodes ensures that applications from the failed node can be restarted on the running server with the most up-to-date application data.

Avance 3.1 also includes a new "rolling reboot feature that can be used to ease the pain of installing upgrades and updates. Stratus would comment that the new rolling reboot feature built into Avance software’s user interface automatically stages and reboots the underlying system resources during upgrades. During the process, the virtual machines are unaffected and experience no downtime.

Snapshot analysis

Like larger organizations, companies in the SMB category face the need to reduce their costs while offering their customers competitive products and services. Like it or not, these products and services are increasingly based upon information technology even if the small company's products and services aren't based upon IT.

Simplicity is the key to success for these companies. Why? They often don't have the staff or the expertise to deal with complex, clustered solutions and yet many suppliers of systems and virtualization technology are suggesting this approach.

Companies, such as VMware, Citrix and even Red Hat, offer virtual machine software that allows workloads to be encapsulated into virtual machines. They also offer VM movement and orchestration software that makes it possible for a VM to move to another physical host in the case of an outage or slowdown. The issue these solutions can cause is that they are complex, have many layers of necessary technology and often are designed to respond to a failure rather than trying to prevent one. Stratus strives to avoid and prevent failures from being seen.

Version 3.1 adds requested features and appears to be a really good tool for companies in the SMB category or resellers, integrators or solution providers that serve SMB. I'd suggest seeing a demonstration of this products if business continuity is important to you.

Note: Stratus Technologies is a Kusnetzky Group client

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