Fast-growing applications such as ERP and Web commerce are forcing information technology managers to include safeguards in even relatively mainstream Unix server environments. That will ensure that applications are available almost all the time.
To help them do that, IBM recently announced a new fully preconfigured, "high-availability" RS/6000 server platform for users seeking to deploy enterprise resource planning (ERP) and electronic-business applications on Unix servers.
Hewlett-Packard Co. in Palo Alto, California, has a similar offering that integrates high-availability technology as part of a service to deliver 99.9 percent application availability.
High-availability configurations are intended to give users near-uninterrupted access to vital corporate applications. Until recently, the need for such continuous availability was restricted largely to mainframe and very high-end server environments hosting vital corporate data and applications.
It is often costly to implement because it typically involves investing in mirrored hardware, software and networks. But in environments that require such security, the cost of not building high-availability components may be even higher, said Harvey Hindin, an analyst at D.H. Brown Associates Inc. in Port Chester, New York.
IBM's high-availability package includes two of its latest S70 Advanced RS/6000 servers tied together using IBM's High Availability Cluster Multi-Processor software. Also included is an RS/6000 SP System Attachment Adapter, which is a hardware switch attachment for connecting the S70 and S70 Advanced servers to massively clustered RS/6000 environments.
IBM's new offering may be just the ticket for International Paper Co., a global producer of printing and writing paper and packaging materials in Purchase, New York, said Ben Moore, a Memphis-based manager of Unix and NT services at the company.
International Paper is hosting a massive SAP AG R/3 ERP implementation on a battery of RS/6000 S/70 servers. The company is interested in building high-availability components to guarantee availability of SAP applications, including financial planning, materials management and worldwide production planning.
"We have a choice to either buy the cluster configuration or build the high-availability [environment] ourselves," Moore said. He noted that "IBM's package would allow us to implement high-availability a lot quicker" than it would if the company itself were to build it.
Pricing for a base configuration consisting of two four-processor RS/6000 S70 servers, each with 2G bytes of memory, cluster software and the AIX Unix operating system, starts at about US$445,000.