Microsoft in cluster move

Microsoft is launching software it believes can support highly scalable Web application systems.

Microsoft is launching software it believes can support highly scalable Web application systems.

Eric Doyle

Application Center 2000 Web-server cluster management software groups Web servers into a "Web farm" so that they all appear as a single "virtual computer".

The advantage is that if one server fails, the others will ensure that services are still delivered without any noticeable degradation.

Unlike a single large server, correctly implemented, there is no single point of failure that can bring the whole system down.

The cluster management maintains a constant image of all the software and data across the Web farm. This allows new servers to be added or failed servers to be removed without any downtime or service interruptions.

Ovum research director for e-infrastructure Neil Ward-Dutton said the technology is not new, citing examples as Digital Equipment's minicomputer clustering and Borland's three-year-old Appcenter. But he agrees that it's an important step for Microsoft.

"This is the first time that Microsoft has demonstrated this level of capability - and it needs to if it's going to be taken as a serious enterprise-class player," he said.

"With this only targeting Windows 2000 servers, and the fact that there are competitive, cross-platform alternatives, it cuts down the potential audience quite a lot."

eric.doyle@rbi.co.uk

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