Starting this month, we will begin featuring stories about our customers in the Customer Spotlight Series, a new section of the blog that showcases the diversity and results our customers are seeing. This month’s spotlight is on Rexam, one of the world’s top five consumer packaging companies. Rexam is a manufacturer of consumer packaging and beverage cans, serving a number of markets including the beverage, personal care, healthcare and food markets.
As consumers, we demand the most from companies in this fast-paced world. The same applies to manufacturers. Consider the supply chain for Rexam and their customers such as Anheuser-Busch and Coca Cola. If they experience instances of downtime that slow down their production, the domino effect runs through various areas of their operations and supply chain, including replenishment of materials, orders and invoices. If any one of those areas is affected by downtime, the end consumer, not to mention the rest of the organizations involved in the supply chain, will be affected and the aftermath can include missed production goals, cost overruns and a tarnished reputation.
According to a recent Stratus Technologies survey conducted in partnership with IndustryWeek, in the first quarter of 2012, approximately one in every three manufacturers have experienced downtime affecting one or more of their manufacturing applications. For manufacturing plants like Rexam, running at full-capacity, downtime isn’t acceptable for operations. Whether it is planned or unexpected downtime, Rexam realized downtime was hurting their bottom line and was adding overhead.
With 99.999+ percent uptime and no need for plant-level support, the Stratus fault-tolerant, high-availability servers were the choice for them. The servers were also appealing to Rexam because from the view of an application, they looked like ordinary Windows servers. This was important to Rexam because one goal was to minimize the training involved with this implementation. Availability was also an important element to Rexam’s decision to select Stratus for their 17 manufacturing plants.
After the pilot tests from a single plant signaled the system was delivering expected levels of availability, Rexam implemented Stratus’ high-availability fault-tolerant servers in the remaining 16 North American plants.
In this day and age, finding opportunities to take the data center offline is hard enough on operations, let alone bearing the stresses of unplanned downtime. Heading into the summer months, Rexam is happy to ensure the end-users get the most out of their leisurely downtime, and don’t have to sweat from stresses of IT downtime.
For more on Rexam’s story, check out the Rexam Case Study.
Chas Horvath, Director of Software Engineering at Stratus provides a brief history of remote service connectivity, positioning Stratus’ current offerings relative to the industry and outlining why Active Service Network (ASN) connectivity is of increasing strategic importance to Stratus and its customer’s success. Chas then provides an overview of ASN’s inner workings and operational procedures with an emphasis on security, and in particular articulating how ASNs’ encryption, authentication, and access control policies are compatible with PCI (Payment Card Industry) data security standards.
Denny Lane dispells 3 myths about high availability servers, comparing our legacy 1982 products to our newest ftserver. The fault tolerant solutions are smaller, less expensive, and more up-to-date than ever, and run Linux, VMware, Windows, and even support both private and public cloud.
We’ve always had a bit of a problem describing “fault tolerant.” Even knowledgeable people in the availability industry struggle with a concept whose very name is misleading. “Fault tolerant” leads people to believe that a system works to manage or “tolerate” a failover, when that simply isn’t true. Since everything is duplicated and runs twice, nothing happens to the system when there is a problem. The application continues running on the working server and the performance stays the same while the faulty one calls home for pro-active service.
For an analogy, think of the Radio City Rockettes as our server, and the kicking action as our application. If, in the middle of the show, a Rockette falls off the stage, kicking still happens. However, in our model, the horror of watching the fall has probably disrupted the audience, and the show is no longer a success.
So let’s try another analogy. As it turns out, your body’s most important organs are fault tolerant (with two notable exceptions.) You have two lungs, two kidneys, two eyes, two legs, and women have two ovaries. If we think of the functions of these organs (say, sight,) as the application and the organ (here, eyes) as the server, people with one working eye can still see. But, as Kevin Butler our web guy pointed out, one-eyes people can’t gauge distance, have limited range, and many other problems. So, your body isn’t quite as fault as we had hoped.
Another example we came up with were races. Imagine two identical runners in a race, each running for the same team. Here, the race is the application and the runners are the fault-tolerant servers. If the gun goes off, and one runner trips, a runner still makes it to the finish line for a medal for his team and if both runners had crossed the finish line, still only one medal would have been earned. It, too, doesn’t quite fit.
The duplicated, wasted energy is, in every other facet of life, eliminated or nonexistent. Fault tolerant servers literally do all of the work of each application twice, for just one result. Half of the work is completely superfluous unless its twin server has faulted in which case, it merely continues doing the same work alone until the faulted twin is back online.
Does anyone have a better analogy? How do you explain fault tolerance? Does this ever occur in nature?
Stratus® ftServer® systems are designed to use industry-standard hardware components and to support off-the-shelf operating systems so that they appear as standard x86 servers to third-party management tools. By adhering to industry-standard protocols, Stratus provides a suite of tools to manage ftServer systems both locally and remotely and to integrate them with a wide variety of third party management tools.
More importantly, this management capability is augmented by the fault-tolerant architecture of the ftServer system itself and the robust Service and Proactive Availability Management that back it up. This combination insures that ftServer systems seamlessly integrate within existing management frameworks and that they provide the highest levels of uptime and ease of management.
This session describes the tools available for monitoring and managing ftServer systems in a variety of scenarios ranging from local or remote configuration of a single server to integration with an enterprise management software suite controlling a large-scale heterogeneous server infrastructure.