Marathon beats VMware to the SMP fault-tolerance punch

Marathon's everRun MX is the first to provide an affordable, software-based fault tolerance solution for multicore and SMP servers and applications

One of the basic concepts of server virtualization is the ability to abstract servers from the underlying hardware, thus preventing vendor lock-in and giving consumers the ability to mix and match commodity hardware in their environments. Marathon Technologies has taken that a step further by providing consumers with a software-based fault-tolerant solution that runs on commodity servers, not specialized equipment, thereby also preventing hardware vendor lock-in.

Marathon's everRun MX is designed to help small to midsize organizations affordably ensure uptime for applications running on industry-standard Windows servers. With this latest version Marathon is able to take advantage of today's modern server hardware, which has multicore CPUs and is usually configured for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP).

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Customer demand for always-on environments has outpaced the ability of companies to protect themselves against a system fault, according to Marathon. As a result, high availability (HA) is no longer "good enough." Customers want more than the ability to quickly recover from a system failure. They want fault tolerance.

everRun MX provides fault tolerance to applications that require 100 percent uptime. It does so by combining two standard Windows servers into a single operating environment with complete redundancy of all underlying hardware and data. everRun MX then presents these redundant servers as a single operating environment to keep applications running in the event of component or system failures. It operates in lockstep, ensuring redundancy of the hardware, data, and networks, to provide automated fault management. Marathon says this ensures true continuous availability for applications that simply cannot have any downtime or lose "in-flight" transactions.

Marathon claims everRun MX is the industry's first software-based fault-tolerant solution for symmetric multiprocessing and multicore servers and applications. The company also says everRun MX removes the price/performance barrier to continuous uptime, which not only eliminates technology trade-offs but also makes fault tolerance more obtainable by any organization, regardless of its size.

Software fault tolerance itself is not new in the virtualization community. Virtualization giant VMware also provides a software FT solution for its own platform. But both VMware and Marathon have had to settle on protecting only those virtual machines that were configured with a single virtual CPU. Until now, keeping two virtual CPUs in lockstep has proven to be quite the challenge.

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