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IBM backs clustered NT servers

IBM broadens storage support on clustered Windows NT servers, another signal that NT could expand in the corporate market.

IBM (IBM) announced it is broadening its support of data storage for clustered Windows NT servers, yet more evidence of a major vendor chiming in with support of this high-end corporate computing technology.

IBM will offer hard disk subsystems for NT clustering based on its Serial Storage Architecture (SSA) technology.

Clustering, which allows interconnected servers to talk to each other, provides for fail-safe access to critical data. If one server goes down, another server takes over the work of the first. Later versions of the technology on NT may also allow customers to boost performance by adding clusters, though historically this type of clustering has been difficult to implement.

To date, IBM has offered SSA disk subsystems for the major Unix servers, but has supported Windows NT only for Digital's Alpha servers, a relatively small market.

IBM's storage clustering, which reduces the number of storage devices required for multiple servers, is aimed at applications such as electronic commerce and data warehousing.

IBM's 7133 SSA disk subsystem, used in conjunction with Microsoft's imminent "Wolfpack" application program interface (API) for clustered servers, will support dual-processor systems. The 7133 comes with a minimum of four disk drives, each with a capacity of 2GB, 4GB, or 9GB.

The 7133 is due in late December.

IBM has also been using clustering on its RS/6000 line or PowerPC architecture servers.

Clustering has traditionally been the province of high-end, corporate systems running on a Unix operating system. But Microsoft's Windows NT operating system, running on machines using Intel processors, may begin to make inroads as major Intel-based server manufacturers such Compaq, Sequent, and Dell move aggressively into clustering.

Dell is expected to make an announcement later this year regarding its entry into the NT clustering market. Dell has already been demonstrating clustered systems running on Oracle technology.