New cluster servers from IBM's Netfinity line

IBM has announced two new cluster servers designed to reduce the complexity of ordering and connecting servers designed for high availability and fail-over.

An IBM spokesperson said the Netfinity HA Cluster Servers are the first two-node bundles to be powered by Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

The system is designed to make adding a cluster server easier by giving customers a single package to buy, rather than having to pick and integrate the 48 components that comprise it, for a cost as much as 20% greater, according to an IBM spokesperson."

Should either server crash or require maintenance, the other is designed to automatically take over so users will always have access to their applications and data.

In addition, IBM will provide enhanced levels of support to customers for the first 90 days via a single 800 telephone number for hardware and software.

The rack version of the cluster server retails at $23,999, while the tower cluster is $19,499.

Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata in Nashua, New Hampshire, said cluster servers are important because they allow a business to keep running even if one server goes down.

"No longer is it the case that IT supports the business, IT is the business," Eunice said. "If an application goes down, you don't have access to your order entry or your revenue collections. If an application goes down, you're not making money. So you want to make sure your application stays up."

The HA Cluster Servers can also be ordered with Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition with Microsoft consulting services.

The system connects a pair of two-way symmetric multiprocessing Netfinity 4500R 3U servers, which are based on the 667-MHz Intel Corp. processors with 133-MHz front side bus.

The tower option includes a pair of two-way Netfinity 5000 SMP servers. It comes with the same Intel processors as the rack option. Each server in the cluster has up to 4 GB of SDRAM memory and is also connected by a IBM Netfinity EXP200 Storage Unit, a hard-drive unit that holds 10 hot-swappable disks.

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