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Virtualization Vendor Profile: Stratus Technologies

Welcome to the latest edition of the Virtualization Vendor Profile. Every once in a while I’ll talk with a smaller or lesser-known company, learn about their business, discuss some industry trends, and write up a recap.

At the beginning of my recent phone call with Stratus Technologies, I called the company a “fault-tolerant server vendor.” Roy Sanford, Stratus’ chief marketing officer, responded: “That’s kind of like calling Ford a ‘steering wheel company.'”

That’s not the best analogy, because Ford isn’t famous for its steering wheels. Stratus, on the other hand, is best known for its “ultra high availability servers,” as even its website says. But the point Sanford was trying to make — that Stratus does more than just fault-tolerant servers — is true.

Last year, the 30-year-old company got into the fault-tolerant software game with its Avance product, which synchronizes two servers in real time. Avance, a bare-metal install that provides users with a full Citrix XenServer environment, targets organizations with limited IT expertise and fewer than 500 employees. Naturally, the big question there is, why XenServer and not VMware or Hyper-V?

“It clearly was the lower-cost solution and provided everything the smaller business would need,” Sanford said.

I also asked Sanford if Stratus got into software because, as we recently reported, fault-tolerant hardware hasn’t exactly set the virtualization market on fire. But he didn’t agree with that premise.

“Fault-tolerant hardware can catch on in the virtualization space,” he said. “We have actually seen an up-tick in the number of customers who are keenly interested in fault-tolerant hardware.”

Instead, Sanford said Stratus expanded into software to address new availability problems brought on by virtualization. In the past, he explained, one of the leading causes of downtime was the failure of individual hardware components, network cards and drivers. Those systems have become more and more reliable over the years, but downtime is still a major issue, now thanks to the complexities and interdependencies of virtual infrastructures. A software approach can help address those causes, Sanford said.

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