Sun launches Enterprise Continuity

Sun Microsystems Inc. Tuesday 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. The idea of 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 organizations to climb aboard the Enterprise Continuity concept.

“We have taken the concept of active symmetric clustering and have broken it out of its’ jail in the machine room and allow you to have it geographically dispersed up to 200 kilometres away,” said Chris Wood, director for technical sales and marketing with Sun Microsystems in Newark, Calif. The eventual goal is to house information 400 km away, he added.

In the U.S., a service provider or telco will be selected to provide the interconnect service, Wood said. And, Nortel Networks’ 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 yet either. As in the U.S., a Sun spokesperson said that decision would have to be determined by Sun, Nortel and the customer on a case-by-case basis.

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

Norwalk, Conn.- based 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 per cent back away from what Sun and other vendors offer on cost alone. On average, a customer can expect to spend somewhere in the neighbourhood of US$10,000 per month.

And, Rankine added that there are “significant performance issues beyond 40 kilometres.” Cost aside, 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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