Server Virtualization and Stratus ftServer Uptime Go Hand-in-Hand at Purdue Pharma; ftServer Reliability Enables Successful Server Consolidation.
Purdue Pharma had hundreds of applications running on as many Windows(R)-based servers, with average capacity utilization around 10 percent. To improve overall efficiency and manageability, the company's IT staff embarked on a server consolidation, or virtualization project. With the benefits of running multiple Windows-based applications on a single server -- potentially as many as 14 applications at a time -- also came a heightened risk of detrimental effects on operations should a server malfunction.
"When you put a lot of eggs in one basket, you need a very strong basket to put those eggs in," said Stephen Rayda, director of architecture at Purdue Pharma. "We looked for a rock-solid platform that would meet our requirements for server availability."
After choosing VMware GSX Server software, the company used an ordinary stand-alone server for proof-of-concept testing. But the server did not prove reliable enough. The major problem was that misbehaving device drivers, which provide interfaces to server peripherals and communications lines, repeatedly crashed the operating system. The staff's experience with server clusters -- complex and time-consuming to set up, and not always effective at failing over properly between servers -- eliminated that alternative from consideration. The project team determined that fault-tolerant ftServer systems would provide the high levels of system uptime and data integrity essential for server consolidation.
Purdue Pharma currently runs five ftServer systems in its data center. When fully populated, the center will host 100-plus servers. According to Rayda, the savings will repay the company's investment in fault-tolerant servers many times over. "We expect to enjoy significant savings in hardware, software, facilities and services costs over the next three years by consolidating existing servers and keeping new ones out of the data center," he said. "I can provision a new virtual server in just minutes. It's mind-numbingly easy to do."
Stratus ftServer systems are built with virtually total redundancy in a single enclosure. In a fault-tolerant architecture, the equivalent of two physical servers operate in precise lock step, functioning as one logical computer with a single software image. Should any component fail, including processors, its mate is already on the job and the application will continue to run completely unaffected; there is no downtime, no data loss and no service degradation. The system self-diagnoses problems, then initiates a secure callback to the Stratus Customer Service Center where issues are remotely investigated and usually resolved. If a new component is required, the part ships to the customer for next-day delivery. Most ftServer system parts are customer replaceable, again while the server and application continue to function normally.
Purdue Pharma was especially pleased with Stratus Technologies' emphasis on device driver reliability. Stratus works closely with third-party suppliers to harden device drivers, which alleviates the potential for driver errors to cause operating system instability. The company recently announced embedded open-driver technology for its new ftServer(R) System Software (ftSSS) Release 3.0 for Microsoft Windows Server 2003. With the new system software, third-party device drivers that pass Windows Hardware Quality Lab (WHQL) tests, including surprise-removal support, will be fully functional without requiring Stratus-specific code or calls written into the driver software. Drivers that do not support Windows-specified surprise removal can also be supported with a minimal amount of modification by the driver vendor.
The pharmaceutical manufacturer plans to use ftServer systems for more applications, including data capture and reporting requirements for FDA 21 CFR Part 11 rule compliance.
About Purdue Pharma L.P.
Purdue Pharma L.P. and its associated U.S. companies are privately held pharmaceutical companies known for pioneering research on persistent pain and associated treatments. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Purdue is engaged in the research, development, production, and distribution of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines and hospital products. Additional information about Purdue can be found at www.purduepharma.com.
About Stratus Technologies
Stratus Technologies is a global provider of fault-tolerant computer servers, technologies and services, with more than 20 years of experience focused in the fault-tolerant server market. Stratus servers provide high levels of reliability relative to the server industry, delivering 99.999% uptime or better. Stratus servers and support services are used by customers for their critical computer-based operations that are required to be continuously available for the proper functioning of their businesses. For more information, visit www.stratus.com.
Stratus and ftServer are registered trademarks of Stratus Technologies Bermuda Ltd. The Stratus Technologies logo is a trademark of Stratus Technologies Bermuda Ltd. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
(C) 2004 Stratus Technologies Bermuda Ltd. All rights reserved.