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Sun launches Enterprise Continuity

Sun Microsystems has announced its Enterprise Continuity offering, enabling multiple data centres to act as one and enterprises to keep their businesses running despite any disasters.

The basic premise surrounding Enterprise Continuity is to use a telco's dark fibre to separate data centres in case a failure or disaster should occur.

The potential customer provides its own hardware and agrees to pay a service fee - usually on a monthly basis - in exchange for secure data and infrastructure. Keeping data at various locations means that information is always safe, according to Sun.

The company will use its existing UltraSPARC servers, StorEdge Open SAN Architecture and SunPlex clustering technologies to entice organisations to climb aboard the Enterprise Continuity concept.

"We have taken the concept of active symmetric clustering and moved it out of the machine room and allow you to have it geographically dispersed up to 200km away," said Chris Wood, director for technical sales and marketing with Sun Microsystems. The eventual goal is to house information 400km away.

Sun will now team up with AT&T and use the telco's 18 data centres across the US. AT&T will provide the interconnect service and the remote raised floor, Wood said. Nortel Network's OPTera Metro 5200, a DWDM multiservice platform, will provide "the rubber band", Woods added.

In Canada, the service is available but no specific telco has been chosen. That decision would be determined by Sun, Nortel and the customer on a case-by-case basis.

As most organisations are already painfully aware, local fibre is a big issue. In many cities across both the US and Canada, it's a chore to find bandwidth 40km away from a large metropolitan city, let alone 200km. And, even if it is possible, it is widely agreed that 200km is the maximum engineering limit and high speeds at this distance should not be expected.

Giga research analyst Colin Rankine said that aside from "some scripting and co-ordination, there's nothing new here". He estimated that out of every 100 customers, 95% back away from what Sun and other vendors offer on cost alone. On average, a customer can expect to spend somewhere in the region of $10,000 (£6,411) per month.

Rankine added that there are significant performance issues beyond 40km. Other significant barriers to proceeding with data clustering or replication include complexity at the IT operations level. Operationally it is challenging to run and co-ordinate, he added. The enterprises most likely to pursue such an endeavour would be the elite financial institutions.

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