Novell's clustering technology will take the stage at Networld+Interop (N+I) as NetWare Cluster Services for NetWare 5 makes its debut.
According to Novell officials, the software will support clusters of eight 4-processor servers, scaling to 32 servers. It has been tested on up to 12 clusters, according to officials, putting NetWare Cluster Services above Microsoft's clustering offerings in terms of servers supported.
"Microsoft currently only has two nodes available for clustering," said Neil MacDonald, vice president and research director of the GartnerGroup's networking practice, in Stamford, Connecticut. "[NetWare Cluster Services] has surpassed what Microsoft Cluster Server on NT has and what Windows 2000 will ship with initially."
Servers using NetWare Cluster Services are connected with Fast Ethernet adapters as well as a Fibre Channel hub or switch and a disk storage subsystem. Load balancing, which helps speed up Internet traffic, and automatic failure recovery features are also included in the software.
Phil Schacter, director at The Burton Group, in Utah, outlined other aspects of NetWare Cluster Services, noting that the connection to Novell Directory Services (NDS) helps beef up NDS' stance in the enterprise.
"It's another directory-enabled service that shows the advantages of NDS as a directory," he said. "It's also a way for enterprises to leverage high-capability storage on storage area networks."
With NetWare Cluster Services, Novell is offering a high-availability solution for NetWare 5; NetWare 4 offered this feature, but users did not find it in the NetWare 5 upgrade.
"High availability is becoming more of an issue across the board, especially with the highly-publicised eBay and stock trading outages," Gartner's MacDonald said. "Novell needed a top-end high availability product; third parties weren't building it so Novell had to do it themselves."
However, both analysts see the new product as a tool for migrating NetWare 4 users to NetWare 5. As Novell centres more applications around NetWare 5, such as NDS 8 and Single Sign-On, and rolls out fewer for NetWare 4 and earlier NetWare versions, the case for migration becomes much more compelling, they said.
According to Burton Group's Schacter, users of Novell's System Fault Tolerance technology can migrate to NetWare 5 and take advantage of the clustering features without losing the high availability they had with their previous versions of NetWare.