Continuous Availability at an Affordable Cost for Today’s Business

The need for processing data continues to grow as analysis and reporting needs expand with business requirements. Accommodating these data needs—while providing rapid retrieval and the uptime desired—has been a challenge for many data centers and IT organizations. Traditionally, the use of clustered solutions with virtualization software has been implemented with some success. Depending upon the uptime and storage requirements, the solutions will vary in price and TCO.

For IT organizations with mission-critical data, as well as large retailers needing to maintain and access data quickly, the requirements for server uptime and processing are even more important. Trying to achieve five nines (99.999%) of uptime is feasible in a clustered data center environment, but often these organizations are better served through the implementation of a fault tolerant (FT) server, such as the NEC Express 5800.

Fault Tolerant Servers Provide Real Redundancy

When it comes to reliability, there is no better solution than the NEC Fault Tolerant server family. According to the Standish Group, 72% of mission critical applications servers experience nine hours of outage per year. However, the continuous availability of FT servers ensures 99.999% uptime, for an average annual down time of 5 minutes 25 seconds (Source: IDC). But that is not the only benefit.

The NEC Fault Tolerant Server provides 99.999% uptime in an industry standard Intel Xeon server platform without the added requirement of expensive and complex clustering software. The real elegance of FT servers lies in a configuration that provides real redundancy. Using the GeminiEngine™, an NEC-engineered LSI chipset for fault tolerance control, the FT server series have two identical component groups called CPU/IO modules. Other than the special LSI in the center, each CPU/IO module consists of the exact same components in typical general purpose servers. Key to the unique fault tolerant functionality is the GeminiEngine. The combination of redundant hardware and redundancy control software enables the FT series servers to provide 99.999% uptime.

If repair or replacement is required, the FT server works as a true hot swap device. Using NEC’s Customer Replaceable Unit (CRU) strategy, the module needing the repair is simply replaced. Once replaced, the GeminiEngine product automatically synchronizes the data and places the Fault Tolerant Server back to the redundant configuration with no operation intervention. Processing has never stopped on the working module, meaning the FT server does not require any downtime for maintenance.

Finally, the FT server is compatible with existing operating systems and applications with a major plus – unlike clustered environments, the FT server requires a single license, providing immediate cost savings.

The benefits of the FT server are easily understood, but how would this apply in real- world environments? Let’s explore that a bit further.

Fault Tolerant Servers in the Data Center

The NEC Fault Tolerant Server provides improved, uptime, simplicity while lowering costs compared to traditional clustering. Total cost of ownership can be reduced by taking advantage of the single Operating System and application requirement of the FT Server. System availability is increased as the solution provides 99.999% uptime utilizing hardware based fault tolerant technology. The NEC Fault Tolerant Server also simplifies the server environment by eliminating the need for clustering software.

Fault Tolerant Servers for Building Security

Another use case example for deploying an FT server is physical security at a place of business, which requires high availability. Even one minor glitch can create an unsecure situation by having impatient employees prop open a door because entry door key pads are not working. The open access allows not only multiple employees to enter, but perhaps even an unwanted intruder. Having 99.999% uptime is a significant improvement and prevents degradation in the effectiveness of building security.

Beyond the uptime, replication to ensure that there is no point that building security is compromised, even for a minute, ensures the integrity of the security and safety of the building occupants. FT servers provide high availability through Lockstep, another unique component developed by NEC that ensures the CPUs work synchronously on a clock-cycle basis. Lockstep ensures that replication is in the same state so that the FT server is truly redundant.

Fault Tolerant Servers for Continuous Availability

Data centers and IT departments are being asked to do more with less, while also being expected to better accommodate data needs and business-critical applications. NEC Express FT servers can be used to create a fault tolerant platform for mission-critical applications that’s simple to manage and can be deployed in the same amount of time it takes to configure a simple Windows, Linux, or virtual server. By implementing fault tolerance at the hardware level, and presenting the Express FT as a single logical server, NEC reduces hardware and software dependencies, complex configuration and administration, and the license requirements associated with multi-node software cluster configurations, creating a cost-effective infrastructure for mission-critical business applications.

NEC has worked with independent third parties to thoroughly test its FT servers, as evidenced in these white papers that provide additional benefits of using fault tolerant servers for business critical applications. Finding a solution that provides high uptime and real redundancy will remain a priority for data centers and IT organizations.

To learn more about virtualization listen to the podcast below:

The Emerging Corporate Data Center Challenge: How to Embrace the Service Provider Model

The IT world is moving toward a service delivery model.good customer said something recently that really got my attention:

IT infrastructure is moving quickly toward becoming delivered through a service model. Machines are becoming virtual running in secure data centers on large, partitionable machines.  Self-provisioned virtual IT resources are the key to success for a service model, which requires all aspects of the physical hardware to be abstracted or partitioned with permissions and given only to a tenant of the service.

– Eric Miller, CEO, Genesis Hosting

That is certainly a tall order, but underpinning this direction is the value to both end users and IT infrastructure providers of the self-service model of operations. The commercial service provider market, for example, Amazon S3, has used this model to successfully enable thousands upon thousands of organizations to buy IT services whether server, storage or networking on a “per drink” basis.

As end user organizations consider what the right solution is for them, I would like to offer a few questions to help identify the best means by which long term value and resiliency can be achieved:

·         Which architecture best supports these solutions?

·         What are the implications of self-service for product features and function?

·         What are the technical and management implications of a self-service based hosting model wherein the IaaS provider performs all           provisioning, configuration and management of virtualized IT resources?

A key driver in the on-going transformation of IT infrastructure is how to maintain resiliency in the face of the broad range of customers that need to be  supported while ensuring long-term cost efficiency.

A Bold New Direction for NEC at Enterprise Connect

Enterprise communications is evolving at an incredible pace.  It seems only a few years ago we were all touting the benefits of voice over IP.  Today, our industry is about much  more than voice and data over the same network.  Of course, unified communications is that “much more,” giving us voice, status and presence information, messages in a single inbox, video and Web collaboration tools, social networking capability, and ideally the ability to go mobile with all of these features.

This week our industry’s largest event, Enterprise Connect, kicks off in Orlando with a new name and  vision, “Communications Transforming Business.”  It’s a fitting tagline  for a show that evolved out of voice-centric roots into a much broader array of topics, as UniCom Consulting’s Marty Parker points out this week on NoJitter.com, and one that also aligns with the direction NEC is demonstrating at booth 609.

UCC_AgentToday, NEC Corporation unveiled a new Unified Communications & Collaboration architecture, which is being demonstrated in booth 609 at Enterprise Connect.  Using Rich Internet Applications (RIA) technology, UC&C fits into today’s secure Web architectures and can be deployed either on-premise, in the cloud or a combination of both.  It gives users a unified client across any device – smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC.  The client itself is designed to be simple, elegant and intuitive based on the user’s role.  It’s definitely worth a look if you are at Enterprise Connect this week.

Also worth a look are our speakers – we have five of them this year in the Enterprise Connect program.

“IP Telephony RFP: Who Delivers the Goods?”

  • Monday, February 28, 2:00 – 5:00 PM (Wade Irwin) in Osceola A

“Comparing UC Options: Who’s Offering What?”

  • Tuesday, March 1, 2:30 – 5:30 PM (Gary Gordon) in Osceola A

“The Role of Tablets in Enterprise UC”

  • Tuesday, March 1, 2:30 – 3:30 PM (Gary Gordon) in Osceola B

“Unified Communications Interoperability: What’s Needed?”

  • Wednesday, March 2, 8:00 – 8:45 AM (Todd Landry) in Sun B

“Integrating Mobility and UC RFP”

  • Wednesday, March 2, 2:30 – 5:30 PM (Sheryl Teague) in Sun B