Stratus Launches Software for Sky-High Reliability

Computer users are a seasoned breed, accustomed to less-than-perfect service from their machines. That applications suddenly freeze, forcing you to restart your PC every once in a while, is just a reality of modern life. But for a lot of businesses it’s vital to have a high reliability in their computing systems. If a banking systems goes down it can lead to big monetary losses; if a hospital system does the same the consequences can be even worse.

Stratus Technologies of Maynard, MA, has been in the business of building high-availability computer systems for decades—the company got started in 1980 as a maker of fault-tolerant minicomputers. It still sells its “ftServer” hardware, which come with their own special failsafe software, for customers who need very high quality of service.

On Tuesday, the company launched its first pure software product, called Avance. It transforms two ordinary servers, regardless of manufacturer, into a highly reliable computer system with more than 99.99 percent availability. “This allows our customers maximum flexibility,” August Calhoun, vice president for life sciences at Dell, said during a Stratus company webcast about today’s news.

The principle is that all active applications run on one server, which is continuously mirrored by the other one. If Stratus’s software detects a malfunction—say, a faulty hard drive–the other server node will take over the workload.

Avance is geared to small and medium-sized businesses. Stratus charges a one-time fee of $2,500 per server. As you need two servers for a meaningful installation, that means a minimum of $5,000 per customer.

“Stratus knows from three decades of first-hand knowledge that, all things being equal, every provider and user of computer-based services would opt for superior uptime reliability given the choice,” said Stratus president and CEO David Laurello in a statement about the product launch. “Avance software is the equalizer, eliminating the two biggest barriers—cost and complexity.”

Erik Mellgren is a Swedish journalist who worked for Xconomy Boston in 2008 as part of the Stanford Innovation Journalism Fellowship program. His real job is with Ny Teknik, a leading technology and innovation magazine in Sweden, but he loved seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. Follow @

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