Maximum Availability Unveils New HA and DR Products
by Alex Woodie
New Zealand-based Maximum Availability is completing the worldwide roll-out of a new suite of high availability and disaster recovery products for iSeries servers. From what was once a single product, called *noMAX, there are now three siblings in the *noMAX family, including *noMAX Sentry, *noMAX Defender, and *noMAX Garrison. Each delivers a specific level of high availability, and is designed to more closely fit the specific needs of a range of iSeries shops.
*noMAX Sentry is created for customers that are starting out with high availability, and is the most significant part of Maximum Availability's announcement. This product is designed to replicate only data, and is intended as a replacement (or at least to augment) customers' tape-based backup and recovery processes. The product, which is installed on the OS/400 server (or logical partition) that's functioning as the backup server, continuously replicates changes made on the primary database to the secondary database, using IBM's remote journaling technology that is built into OS/400.
In the event of a disaster or computer failure, *noMAX Sentry has fully synchronized a secondary database to the primary database. This prevents the loss of data received since the last backup. Some objects, such as user profiles, data areas, and data queues, would require rebuilding from the last full system backup (probably saved to tape).
While there's no seamless failover to a backup system with Sentry, users can get back up and running much faster than if the entire server had to be rebuilt from tape, which could take days, says Simon O'Sullivan, the company's senior vice president of sales and marketing.
"Ninety-nine percent of changes happen to data, and only 1 percent to objects," O'Sullivan says. "*noMAX Sentry is an entry-level disaster recovery solution that really looks after the most critical part--the data--since it can't be recreated after a disaster. You can always recreate the objects."
Customers looking for a more complete high availability solution are directed to *noMAX Defender. This solution builds on the entry-level product by adding support for the replication of objects (including data areas, data queues, and user profiles), as well as supporting real-time replication, which means it will automatically sense when new elements have been added to the system and add them to the replication; with *noMAX Sentry, the data elements have to be manually added to the system. *noMAX Defender also supports the execution of role swaps (which is arguably one of the requirements for a high availability product), and comes with the "Advanced Toolset," as opposed to the standard set of tools that are packaged with *noMAX Sentry.
The third product in the new suite, *noMAX Garrison, builds on the other products by adding IFS replication, including file paths, structures, and IFS data, to the mix. In addition to IFS replication, *noMAX Garrison also comes with the richest assortment of tools, via the "Utility Suite."
Maximum Availability decided to offer *noMAX as three separate products with varying levels of capabilities to make it easier for customers to start implementing high availability. While the cost of high availability has plummeted in recent years, thanks in large part to products like *noMAX and others that are based on remote journaling, company officials think the price needs to come down even further, if high availability is to break out of its high-end niche and become a volume business.
"I have a prospect that wants to replicate from Nassau to Freeport in the Bahamas. Their main problem getting started was the budget. It was going to cost $30,000 for *noMAX. That was going to be a big issue for them," O'Sullivan says. "With Sentry, they can get their data going, they can use the GUI, they only have to load it on the target box, and they can do it without asking for budget approval."
Maximum Availability has priced *noMAX Sentry at 50 percent of what it previously charged for the full *noMAX product, which started at $10,000 for a single license. Because *noMAX Sentry is only installed on the target box, the savings is even greater. With previous instances of *noMAX, two licenses were needed--at a total cost starting at $20,000--because the software was installed on both the primary and the secondary machines. The flip-side of this low-price coin is that *noMAX Sentry will only replicate data in one direction; it can't be used to replicate data from the secondary machine to the primary machine.
*noMAX Defender is priced at 70 percent of the previous *noMAX solution, while pricing for *noMAX Garrison is basically unchanged from previous releases. The company is, however, no longer charging for the software based on the number of "applies" its software can process concurrently; all the products in the new suite come with unlimited concurrent applies.
Upgrading within the new *noMAX line is a simple matter, and the company will honor previous investments in Maximum Availability products, as long as the customer is current on its maintenance, O'Sullivan says. "We're trying to get customers on a roadmap, and start them at a low level," he says. "It's a matter of getting these guys to take the first step. It's quick and easy, and they can get it running on site in a few hours. Really, it's a very attractive first step."
O'Sullivan was traveling in the Midwest last week, wrapping up a world tour introducing the new *noMAX suite to Maximum Availability's network of resellers. Since Maximum Availability received the value-added enhancement for its products from IBM, and entered into a partnership with iSeries master distributor Avnet, it has signed on 25 resellers, which are responsible for about 90 percent of *noMAX sales, O'Sullivan says.
Maximum Availability relies upon these resellers to provide localized Level 1 technical support for their customers based on geographic zones, O'Sullivan says. "There are two types of customers, those that say 'We can do it all. Train us on Webex, and we'll do it ourselves,' and other customers that would much rather have a warm body on site," he says.