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Sun seeks lustre in cluster software

Daniel Thomas
Sun Microsystems has released its latest clustering software, which will allow servers containing Sun's Ultrasparc III chip to be clustered up to eight nodes, writes Daniel Thomas.

The company said Cluster 3.0 and Management Center 3.0, designed as an extension to the Solaris 8 Operating Environment, will provide a higher level of reliability in back-end systems, which should allow companies to focus on providing services, rather than keeping their network up and running.

It said the software is useful for complicated, high-end server centres when an administrator wants to manage computing tasks without worrying about the servers they run on.

"Customers are finding themselves spending too much time running their servers and not enough time managing the services or applications they provide," said Anil Gadre, vice-president and general manager of Solaris Software at Sun.

"The ability of Sun Cluster 3.0 to automate and simplify service management tasks will redefine the way companies use clustering technology," he added.

Clustering software is an important part of the high-end server market, as it enables Unix and potentially Windows servers to come closer to the reliability of mainframes. Features of Sun's software include new system maintenance tools, such as patch and change management services and dynamic kernel patching.

System monitoring tools will be included to allow the system to fail over to a new CPU in about 10 seconds, rather than the several minutes the previous version 2.2 required. Also, with the software, the server's job will be separated from the network connection and the data storage system itself, adding modularity to the system.

Rivals in the clustering market IBM and Hewlett Packard claim the Sun software adds nothing new.

HP said the 10 second fail-over feature had already been implemented in its MC/Serviceguard technology and IBM pointed out its software can harness 32 nodes, compared to Sun's eight.

Cluster 3.0

Management Center 3.0 and Cluster 3.0 offer:

  • Cluster-wide device system that simplifies addition of storage peripherals to the cluster

  • Suite of cluster agents from Sun Tools to easily define new cluster agents

  • Cluster-wide administration tools

  • Tools to simplify the installation and operation of the cluster


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