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Cobalt Releases Linux "Clustering" Software

Written By: R. Krause
Published On: June 28 2000

Cobalt Releases Linux "Clustering" Software
R. Krause - June 28, 2000

Event Summary

In May Cobalt Networks Inc., a provider of server appliances, announced Cobalt StaQware, a high availability clustering solution that ensures the uptime of business critical Web sites and applications. StaQware, which runs on Cobalt's RaQ 3i server appliances, offers 99.99 percent availability and requires no customization or modification to applications. [Source: Cobalt press release]

Business critical information and applications residing on a server are open to power failure, operator error, software crashes, hardware faults and other causes of server outages. Recovering from a server failure takes time, money and new hardware. Cobalt StaQware is designed to provide constant uptime reliability, real time content replication and full data and hardware redundancy. With pricing below $1,000 and an easy to use browser-based set-up and administration, StaQware is created to make high availability services affordable and easy to implement for service providers offering Web and application hosting services.

"As more customers migrate their business critical Web applications to a dedicated RaQ 3i server appliance, the need for reliability and constant uptime increases. In this market, time is money and failure or downtime is lost revenue," said Kelly Herrell, vice president of marketing, Cobalt Networks, Inc. "Cobalt StaQware offers service providers a means to deliver highly reliable and affordable dedicated Web and application hosting services that their customers are seeking."

Cobalt lists StaQware's benefits as:

  • Automatic real time content replication

  • Automatic failure detection and rollover

  • Full data and hardware redundancy

  • Browser-based administration and easy setup

StaQware requires the user to have two RaQ 3i server appliances as the hardware platform. StaQware is available through the Cobalt Web site at shop.cobalt.com. Through the end of June, Cobalt StaQware will be available at a special introductory price of $499 - 50 percent off of the suggested retail price of $999.

Market Impact

We do not believe this product will drastically change the market. In fact, we're not even sure we classify it as clustering.

On the plus side, Cobalt handles content replication, whereas TurboCluster is not marketed as such. Cobalt also sells StaQware as a bundled solution (not for $995, of course) - with TurboCluster you need to have your own hardware. The price is certainly attractive, especially under the current promo.

But, the ability to cluster only two systems is hardly a world-beater. TurboLinux already has a cluster solution (Ref. TurboLinux Clusters - One More Step Taken) for approximately the same price as Cobalt's (excluding Cobalt's special promo). The difference is TurboCluster has a version that can handle 25 or more nodes, vs. two for StaQware. StaQware does not load-balance, which we always thought was an intrinsic part of clustering. In addition, the "failover" requires from one to 10 minutes for the backup system to spin up the disk, etc. Maybe we're being provincial, but in our world, this is a replicated, semi-hot backup, not a cluster. Even Microsoft clusters (until recently considered an oxymoronic term by some) seem to be more cluster-like than this offering.

User Recommendations

If you do not currently own any of Cobalt's RaQ 3i, and do not plan to buy any, then this product is not for you, and you should go read something else. (Note: StaQware will not run on RaQ 3 and RaQ 2)

If you have one (or multiple) Cobalt RaQ 3i's, and need to have a semi-warm backup server with replicated data, then StaQware may fill a need in your organization.

For those users considering Cobalt for its server appliances, this software may help be a decision factor, but we cannot recommend buying a Cobalt RaQ 3i for the sole purpose of getting StaQware. There are valid reasons for buying Cobalt servers, but we do not feel this "clustering" solution is sufficient.

 
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