By William Fellows
Moving system uptime to the top of the list of its concerns, Sun Microsystems Inc is linking its internal employee compensation plan directly to the level of system and application uptime its customers achieve. If six-monthly pre-set uptime levels are missed, penalties will be levied. Sun will use the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Uptime Institute Inc to monitor, measure and index the frequency of outages, and register the cost and impact of downtime. The Uptime Institute is creating a Sun-specific version of its Site Uptime Network called the SunUp network, which will add software to users’ systems to measure actual application availability and identify the root cause of downtime. The data goes back to Sun, which says participants will then enhance products or deploy new practices to address these issues even while applications are running. Sun says the goal is to improve uptime by 10% a year for three consecutive years. Ten customers have already paid TUI a membership fee to join the program, which will organize users into groups of fifteen, keeping competitors apart. TUI counts 45 companies as members of its existing network, including most major fault-tolerant concerns in the US, as well as Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell Computer Corp, PacBell, the Boeing Co, Visa International and the Sabre Group. Sun says it can currently guarantee 99.95% uptime a year on single servers (4.3 hours downtime a year), and says HP only guarantees this level of uptime on clustered systems. Sun says it offers 99.975% uptime on clustered systems, or 2.1 hours downtime per year, and that its new FT1800 server offers 99.999% uptime in certain operating environments and for specific applications. Sun claims that HP’s uptime numbers exclude planned outages and database and clustering hangs, putting it even farther behind Sun’s service levels. A recent DH Brown survey placed Sun second in overall RAS reliability, availability and serviceability behind IBM Corp but ahead of HP. Sun believes 80% unplanned downtime is due to human error, while 20% is related to product issues. Sun is also integrating the SyMon system monitoring software it uses – which is based on technology from Halcyon Inc – with BMC Software, Computer Associates, Enlighten Software and Tivoli systems management environments. For HP’s reaction see separate story.