Marathon everRun MX review

Marathon’s new everRun MX raises the bar for system-level fault tolerant servers and supports multi-core and SMP-capable applications too. Read this exclusive review to see how it achieves this and what happens when we pull the plug on it.

For testing we were supplied with the everRun MX preinstalled on a pair of Dell PowerEdge R610 rack servers. The R610 is one of Marathon's platforms of choice. Our first job was to use the Citrix XenCenter console to access the servers and create our VMs. You only need to do this on one of the XenServer hosts as everRun MX handles the rest.

We created a couple of four-core VMs on one host server and installed Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit on them along with the XenServer tools. Now you move over to the everRun Availability Center web browser-based console which opens with a summary of resource pools, XenServer hosts and VMs.

Creating a protected resource doesn't get any easier as you pick a VM from the pool and select the Protect menu option. This presents a wizard where you choose the protection level, the secondary XenServer host and storage mirroring.

During the protection process the VM on the primary XenServer host is closed down whilst a mirror is created on the secondary XenServer host. The whole process took less than 30 minutes after which we were presented with a new PVM (protected VM).

A PVM at protection level 3 comprises identical VMs on each XenServer host running in full lockstep mode across the hosts' Gigabit Ethernet ports. This provides system level fault tolerance as both PVM members are active, so if one host server fails all operations are moved to the other with no interruption.

Protection level 2 provides component redundancy as the secondary VM is mirrored but not active. If a host system fails, then this VM is brought online resulting in a brief service interruption.

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