Quadrant Launches New High Availability Line of FastFax Servers
January 6, 2004 Alex Woodie
Quadrant Software, a provider of electronic document distribution systems for OS/400 servers, is rolling out a new line of rack-mountable FastFax servers that include high availability features such as RAID disk protection and redundant power supplies. FastFax implementations typically include a Wintel box on which Quadrant preloads the FastFax fax and e-mail software. With the new line, the boxes have been beefed up to cope better with failed disk drives and power supplies.
Faxes and e-mail have become critical means of communications for many businesses. According to a recent survey by e-mail security services firm Postini, more than 70 percent of executives consider e-mail more important to their business than the telephone.
Quadrant’s customers–predominantly OS/400 shops sending critical business documents such as invoices and purchase orders–have little tolerance for losing fax and e-mail capabilities, says Gary Langton, president of Quadrant Software. “Every company suffers some level of inconvenience, wasted time, or monetary loss when their document delivery solution goes offline,” Langton says. “But for many of our customers, losing the ability to fax and e-mail, even for a short while, can be catastrophic, from a financial or regulatory perspective.”
Quadrant’s forte is developing software that can manage the output from practically any OS/400 ERP package. However, the server component of Quadrant’s FastFax suite usually runs entirely on a Wintel box. All of Quadrant’s FastFax shipments include a Wintel-based “black box” that contains the necessary digital fax cards from Brooktrout Technology, and while customers may opt to run the file server portion of the FastFax system on their own Windows or NetWare box, many customers run the entire FastFax server on a Wintel box supplied by Quadrant.
PC servers are inherently less stable and reliable than OS/400 servers, but the OS/400 server today lacks the necessary fax server capabilities, Langton says. Besides, he says, it would not be economical to run large fax workloads on an expensive iSeries, which is better used in managing databases than converting data to dots on a page. Like most computers, when Quadrant’s FastFax devices fail, it is usually a disk drive or a power supply that’s the problem. So how has Quadrant handled this dilemma up to this point? “Overnight delivery,” Langton says. “In our 13-year history, we’ve never missed an overnight delivery.”
Under ideal circumstances, once a customer has obtained a new FastFax server device–or pulled a backup off the shelf–that customer could be back up and running in 35 minutes, Langton says. With the new high availability line, the FastFax server should, theoretically, never go down because of these problems.
Two new servers have been added to Quadrant’s FastFax, including the High-Availability 1 and High-Availability 2 models. Both are rack-mountable devices that are 7 inches in height, or 4U. The HA1 model features two hot-swappable serial hard drives protected at RAID-1, or mirroring. It also features two hot-swappable power supplies with auto-switchover capabilities. This box uses Windows 2000 Professional and has a cap of nine users.
Larger companies, with a slimmer margin for downtime, should consider the new HA2 model, which provides three 36-GB SCSI hard drives protected at the higher RAID-5 level, as well as two hot-swappable power supplies. HA2 runs Windows 2000 Server and is recommended for companies with 10 or more concurrent users who are running Quadrant’s full suite of document distribution software.
The HA1 and HA2 options will add more than $1,000 to the cost of a standard FastFax implementation. Whereas FastFax/Enterprise would typically start at $10,700 with the existing Wintel boxes, HA1 will push that cost up to $12,000, and HA2 will cost $13,000 with FastFax/Enterprise loaded onto it.
Both HA1 and HA2 are available now. Go to www.quadrantsoftware.com for more information.