Ask the Expert

Evaluating clustering software products

What are less expensive cluster software technologies available for Sun/Sparc and x86 platforms besides Veritas VCS and Sun cluster?

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The clustering marketplace is made up of two kinds of vendors – system vendors and third party vendors. Certainly system vendors have an advantage over third party vendors because they are able to more closely tie their products into their operating systems. This doesn't necessarily mean that they have better or more feature-rich products, just that they are able to sell them at the same time they sell systems shutting out other vendors.

If I were evaluating clustering products for management of a critical system, I would take a very close look at that vendor's products as well as the best known and most successful one or two third party products for that platform. Price, while an important characteristic, should not be the lead one. If the software you choose is inferior and as a result some outage lasts longer than it would have with another product, any savings you may have achieved with the cheaper product will surely be lost as will a tremendous amount of goodwill among your users and management.

So, that being said, if you are really going to look past Sun Cluster and Veritas Cluster Server on Solaris and past Microsoft Cluster Server and VCS on Windows (which together account for nearly all of the markets on their respective platforms) you should probably also look at EMC's Legato Automated Availability Manager (for both Solaris and x86) and NSI Doubletake (Windows).

Although I am sure they are out there, I am not aware of any other clustering products on Solaris besides Sun, VERITAS and EMC/Legato.

Evan L. Marcus

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This was first published in April 2004

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