Fault-tolerant systems have always been expensive, and Marathon Technologies' Endurance 6200 4.1 product is no exception. The product requires that you purchase two pairs of identically equipped servers in addition to Marathon's $20,000 hardware and software kit. But Marathon recently said that in second quarter 2003, it will release a software-only version of the product that runs on two identically equipped servers, substantially reducing the cost of fault tolerance.

This new product virtualizes the compute engine and I/O Processor (IOP) within each server, letting each server function in isolation and run its own version of Windows 2000 Server. In addition to eliminating the need for two servers, the new product does away with the four proprietary Marathon Interface Cards (MICs) the current offering uses. Pricing for the new version wasn't available at press time, but without the need for the four 50Mbps NICs, the new product could cost about $10,000.

Like the existing product, the software-only version is intended for applications that run on dual-processor servers. If you install it on 4-way servers that run I/O-intensive applications, the IOPs will benefit from the additional two processors but the compute engines will use only two CPUs. Marathon expects the performance of the two-server software-only solution to be about the same as that of the existing Endurance 6200 hardware/software kit solution on four servers. At press time, the company wasn't sure how many OS licenses the new product will require.