Low-Cost Clusters From PolyServe

Startup vendor PolyServe Inc. has a new data-replication product that works with its failover software. The price is the most compelling feature. It's priced at $500 to $3,000 per server, based on configuration, and will run on Solaris, Windows NT 4.x (Windows 2000 beginning in the first quarter of next year), and multiple versions of Linux. Other failover clustering systems involving hardware and software can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

PolyServe says its LocalCluster software, which ships next week, is appropriate for any Web, file, E-mail, or TCP/IP server. UnderStudy, the precursor to LocalCluster, starts with load balancing, service monitoring, and failure detection and failover between servers. It's designed to install quickly on the servers and resides as an agent or demon on each server in the cluster, so there's no central point of failure.

LocalCluster lets customers replicate content between servers. In case of an outage, LocalCluster moves over content and distributes information evenly among backup servers. PolyServe president Vince Schiavo says achieving high availability is easier than it used to be, and he designs the software for such a market. "Customers can easily attain two or four commodity servers today, compared to the old days of single, expensive proprietary servers," Schiavo says.

Chris Reedus, a customer-network engineer at Digital Island, worked with PolyServe software when he was an employed at Pacific Bell. Pacific Bell paid around $3,500 to get UnderStudy for seven pairs of Linux servers, which acted as domain name services systems keeping track of customers' IP addresses. "If a server went down, it meant significant financial impact to the company," Reedus says. "With PolyServe, we were able to offer customers 99.9% availability."

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