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FAA passes on VMware FT (for now): News in brief

VMware Fault Tolerance isn't ready for mission-critical deployments --even if its IOPS performance is -- says the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA passes on software-based fault tolerance
Count the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) among organizations that don't think products like VMware Fault Tolerance (FT) are up to the task of protecting mission-critical systems.

The FAA recently spent $860,000 with Stratus for a new fault-tolerant servers running VMware ESX, plus services and support. It will partition its Stratus ft6210 servers into two virtual machines, running a message-switching application for information such as flight plans and weather conditions to international airports.

But software-based fault tolerance has a future. As the software improves, the FAA's goal "is to run it on blades and virtualization so we don't have to procure fault-tolerant hardware," said Jim McNeill, a computer specialist at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J. But, he added, "we don't feel that it's available at this time."

For now, the Stratus servers run VMware ESX 3.02FT, a special version co-developed by Stratus and VMware that recognizes redundant Stratus hardware as a single system. "As far as the app is concerned, it thinks it's running on regular hardware," McNeill said.

Starting with vSphere 4, support for Stratus fault-tolerant hardware is built into the VMware bits, said Denny Lane, Stratus' director of product management and marketing, so users will not have to use a specialized version of the platform.

Lane said VMware FT, meanwhile, is interesting although it is currently limited to protecting virtual machines with a single virtual CPU. "It gets people thinking about the importance of availability," and lets them apply fault tolerance to "lightweight workloads," he said.

VMware touts vSphere 4 IOPS performance
VMware said it has benchmarked a single vSphere 4 virtual machine delivering 364,000 IOPS, which it claims is enough to power 700,000 Exchange Server mailboxes, or 274 four-way Oracle databases.

The test was performed on a single VMware vSphere 4 server generating I/O load on 30 enterprise flash drives (EFDs) connected to three EMC Clarion CX4 storage arrays. Iometer was used to generate 8 K I/O size, 100% random 100% read I/O workload against the test disks.

VMware sees concerns from end users about whether it is appropriate to virtualize applications with heavy I/O requirements.

BlueStripe supports Solaris 10
FactFinder, application service management software from BlueStripe Software, will now support the Sun Solaris 10 operating system for Sparc and x86 platforms. FactFinder already supports Windows and Linux, but Solaris support will allow it to discover performance problems in business applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle databases, said Vic Nyman, BlueStripe co-founder and chief operating officer. "Solaris is a well-established business operating system" that is "almost always part of a larger network of applications."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.

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