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October 17, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Finally realising there’s no one answer for fault-tolerance, Stratus Computer Inc this week puts its best foot forward, introducing a range of Pentium-based servers with the unlikely name Radio, clustered using software from its Isis Distributed Systems Inc subsidiary and running UnixWare or Windows NT. Radio – Reliable Architecture for Distributed I/O – is neither an escape route from, or replacement for, the high-end VOS/FTX line of Precision Architecture RISC-based Continuum fault-tolerant systems, Stratus insisted, but said that as customers in target markets such as retail, branch banking, manufacturing and computer-integrated telephony move to personal computer-type offerings it is trying to redeploy resources to wherever customers go. The move also makes sense in the context that Precision Architecture and iAPX-86 are to converge over time. Radio is available with Compute, Storage and Network nodes: Compute nodes, where applications run, come with two 133MHz Pentiums, floppy drive, EISA slot and SCSI. The Storage nodes come with a single 100MHz Pentium, up to 8Gb disk, SCSI, built-in disk replication software and the Chorus Systemes SA microkernel. Network nodes use a 100Mbps Ethernet hub or switch. Radio components can be hot-swapped and cabinets can accommodate up to eight nodes. Stratus said the computer offers basic (built-in), replicated disk storage and cluster management, with high-availability and continuous availability configuration options. For high availability, users can buy an Isis Availability Manager framework that defines, monitors and detects failures and can restart any applications across distributed nodes or on re-allocated disk partitions. The system baby-sits itself, as Stratus described it. Continuous availability is achieved using Isis for Database, or Orbix+Isis in conjunction with applications built to the Isis messaging application programming interface. Other features include phone-home notification (the clusters can automatically notify Stratus for shipment of replacements for failed parts) and 10Base2 maintenance network. Basic Radio configurations are priced from $63,000 to $110,000. Facing up to a much more competitive world in an age of non-proprietary operating systems, Stratus recently announced it would cut 500 jobs to reduce costs, and has re-organised its core business into distributed computing and Continuum (non-distributed) product groups. It said it hasn’t ruled out putting Windows NT on Continuum.

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