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Preventing system failure with fault tolerant servers

For 37 years, Stratus has been preventing computing crises before they happen, eliminating that need to clean up after and make good the damage, says Chuck Hafermann, Stratus Technologies.

Benjamin Franklin once suggested that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure. Old Ben was pretty smart and he recognized that preventing a crisis is infinitely preferable to cleaning up the mess a crisis inevitably creates.

And so it is with information processing. By operating fault tolerant servers, crises can be avoided. Catastrophes can be averted by operating servers that utilize redundant system components where any failure is ridden through with no loss of system availability, processing or data.

Alunorf, situated in Neuss in Germany, is the world’s largest aluminium rolling and casting plant. Manufacturing 1.5 million tonnes of aluminium rolls every year, this expensive, busy and complex plant has to meet many serious health and safety requirements, so high availability was top of the purchasing criteria for a replacement system.

When the company’s IT system became obsolete a few years ago, the organization set out to find a replacement . The management and control of both its pit and pusher furnaces were dependent upon a reliable system. And after considering a cluster system, Alunorf eventually chose a system built on fault-tolerant servers from Stratus Technologies.

Alunorf produces extremely heavy aluminium bars that are hot – around 500 degrees Celsius – when they come out of annealing in the pit and pusher furnaces and onto a hot strip mill. These bars are then rolled out into enormous strips measuring almost 200 metres long. The aluminium is cooled to room temperature, processed further in the cold-rolling mills and then rolled to a thickness of only 0.2mm, before being sold on to, for example, the car or packaging industries, to be processed further.

All of Alunorf’s technical plant is situated in the hot-rolling mill area: cranes, milling machines, furnaces, rollers and cutters, all lined up precisely. Should one link in the processing chain fail, the whole production line would come to a standstill. In light of the high investment in the plant and its full workload, this would cause significant costs. Therefore the demands on the availability of the system are just as high.

Users of Stratus systems should never experience loss of system availability due to component failure. Better still, is that this inherently redundant approach also results in a compute server that is utterly simple to set up, manage, maintain and service. Any business with an application which can’t tolerate downtime should be looking at a Stratus system to prevent crises before they occur.

Especially now, with the release today of Stratus’ newest 9th generation ftServer, featuring the latest in Intel Xeon processing and larger, higher bandwidth memory to handle more compute and data intensive workloads.  Benchmark testing shows 34% faster application performance with these latest systems, compared to previous versions. Other enhancements result in faster boot times and improved remote management responsiveness.

Designed specifically for Windows workloads, the latest ftServer delivers faster application performance, lowers planned downtime, and enhances manageability. The platform consolidates physical server infrastructure with Hyper-V, and ensures the availability of virtualized Windows applications.

Key features and enhancements of the new release support the latest Intel Xeon E5-26XX v4 chipset, offering up to 14 cores and 28 threads per socket satisfying the most data and compute intensive applications. The machines feature a larger, faster memory with up to 1 TB of 2133 MHz memory. Startup is claimed to be quicker with 10-20% shorter boot times to help reduce planned downtime and periodic reminders help reduce the likelihood of unplanned downtime caused by service omissions.

These features together with 10x faster data flow is now available on a secure ftp server, making easier to install or upgrade ftServer systems.

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