SteelEye Safeguards Linux Servers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. (06/29/2000) - A Linux startup this week introduced clustering failover software which gives users added protection against server downtime.

SteelEye Technology launched LifeKeeper, a high-availability server-failover package for Linux. on Windows NT and Unix Servers. LifeKeeper supports RedHat Inc. Linux 6 and features predictive-analysis capabilities that highlight potential problems before a server crashes, letting an IT manager take the system down without disrupting user operations.

Find/SVP, a business advisory service in New York, estimates an hour of downtime will cost a brokerage firm $6.45 million and an airline ticketing system nearly US$90,000 in lost sales revenue. Strategic Research of Santa Barbara, California, says approximately 15 percent of PC servers and 26 percent of Unix servers will be clustered in 2003.

LifeKeeper also offers specialized modules for Oracle, Informix, Sybase and Microsoft Exchange that let those applications failover when trouble occurs and maintains the transaction.

Servers in a LifeKeeper cluster keep in touch via a digital heartbeat signal that indicates the health of the system and its applications. When LifeKeeper detects an event that can create an interruption in server or application availability, it moves the protected resources and applications to another server in the cluster. A Java-based tool, which works from any Linux workstation, ships with LifeKeeper for installing, configuring and managing the cluster.

LifeKeeper clusters can have three configurations: shared data support, where up to four servers can connect to the same SCSI disk drive and failover for each other; multidirectional failover lets up to four servers share data with two other servers through a dual-channel SCSI controller; and cascading failover lets up to 16 servers on a Fibre Channel storage-area network replicate data to each other from their direct-attached storage.

SteelEye was founded in 1999 by veterans of SunSoft (Sun's operating system company), Motorola, NASA and Seagate to create cluster software. The firm purchased LifeKeeper for Unix and Windows NT from NCR. The software will support Intel's upcoming IA-64 Itanium platform.

To share a storage subsystem between servers, SteelEye developed a SCSI reservation protocol, which is similar to a distributed lock manager that locks out access from a server when another server is reading or writing data to the array.

Server failover software is less common than load-balancing clustering software, which increases application availability and processing power by ganging up servers to perform brute-force number crunching.

In server failover applications, two or more active servers act as backups for the others in case of failure. Only SteelEye Technology and StarFire Technology are shipping true failover software, the firm says. SGI is working to port its failover software, SGI IRIS FailSafe, to the SuSE Linux platform, and Motorola has developed a high-availability product for its telecommunications equipment.

Legato has announced eCluster and Legato Cluster Enterprise.

LifeKeeper for Linux is available now and costs $3,000 for two server nodes, with each additional server $1,500.

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