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Sun debuts clustering software

Sun Microsystems continues to roll out a variety of technologies designed to make its systems a compelling alternative to Microsoft's Windows NT.

Sun Microsystems (SUNW) continues to roll out a variety of technologies designed to make its systems a compelling alternative to Microsoft Windows NT and other Unix systems.

The company announced new capabilities that allow four Sun servers to be clustered together while operating as a single system running Sun's Solaris operating system software. Support for parallel databases--such as those offered by Oracle, Sybase, and Informix Software--is part of the second release in a clustering road map dubbed Full Moon, originally outlined in March.

Clustering is a means for users to gain reliability and performance with server systems. A clustered configuration of servers will transfer a set of applications running on one server to a second server if the primary system fails. Companies active in developing clustering software include most Unix-based systems firms, Microsoft, and smaller vendors such as Vinca.

The latest software release from Sun, available this month for $2,000, allows up to four Sun servers containing up to 64 processors each to be linked together as a single system. New servers in Sun's lineup are also supported in the release, including the company's 450 workgroup model.

And, as part of the new support for Sun's high-end Starfire 10000 model, the latest clustering software release will support intra-domain failover capabilities, a feature that allows a partitioned server to move application responsibilities to another group of processors in the same box.

Most vendors are continuing to work on the performance piece of clustering software, which aspires to offer users a single system image of applications and systems in a cluster, turning what could be several connected multiprocessor machines into one system.