IBM To Guarantee Information Availability - InformationWeek

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IBM To Guarantee Information Availability

IBM unveiled plans yesterday to raise the bar on high-availability capabilities for its System/390, AS/400, RS/6000, and Netfinity customers. By the second half of 2000, the company says it will offer guaranteed continuous availability of all information across both low- and high-end systems through a combination of hardware, software, and support from IBM Global Services. IBM is taking its first steps on the path to 100% guaranteed uptime through two new programs launched yesterday, ClusterProven and Advanced ClusterProven.

Under the ClusterProven initiative, IBM has certified databases and applications to remain available in case of failure. The first to receive this certification include products from Informix, Oracle, and PeopleSoft. Advanced ClusterProven eliminates downtime during planned upgrades by introducing software that enables IT managers to, for example, implement rolling upgrades and add a passive backup server to existing LANs.

In the third quarter, IBM plans to support 99.99% availability of information across all environments. The company will launch a service that evaluates what it calls a "bounded system" of seven areas -- hardware, software, applications, procedures, business processes, people skills, and utility problems -- to more completely match a company's workload to its system capacity.

By year's end, IBM says it will guarantee 99.99% availability to companies that follow through on its recommendations. If its recommendations fail to produce this result, users will be eligible for compensation. Based on studies conducted by the Standish Group, which measures the cost per minute of downtime by applications, IBM says it will pay companies $13,000 per minute of downtime of enterprise resource planning applications, for example.

"We will deliver more complete solutions than ever, including guarantees tied to the IT resource," says Carol Carson, program director of cluster programs for IBM's server group. "The guarantees are measured by what [the problem] is worth to the business." Before the end of 2000, IBM says it will improve on its program and offer solutions that will enable it to guarantee continuous operations.

Though IBM won't quote prices for its upcoming services, analysts say they won't come cheap. "We view the guarantees as efforts without a lot of teeth; pretty expensive if there's never an outage," says Michael Silver, a senior analyst for Gartner Group.

But a Netfinity NT server customer of IBM welcomes the new coverage. "We're interested in hearing about what uptime services IBM is coming out with, so we can build 24-hour environments," says Todd Dion, VP of technology for Tutor Time, a child-care operation with 200 centers. Dion says such services will pay for themselves, because lost server productivity can cost the company considerably more than what it would pay for services. "It's absolutely critical to us to have our servers operating all of the time, as we span different time zones," he says.

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