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Big Blue Hardware is Rock Solid

IBM hardware retains its status as being best in class in terms of reliability, stability and performance and customer satisfaction. IBM’s System z mainframes recorded the least amount of downtime of any hardware platform. In the server hardware category systems with relatively small market shares, including Stratus Technologies ftServer 6300 and 4500 series and Fujitsu’s Primequest and Primergy Servers continue to score very high reliability.

Stratus Technologies of Maynard, MA offers Intel Xeon-based systems with mainframe-like fault tolerance and reliability with 99.999 % reliability. The Fujitsu Primergy and Fujitsu SPARC systems similarly deliver a high level of reliability and fault tolerance with 48% of reporting 99.999% or just over five minutes of per server/ per annum downtime due to unplanned outages.

The length and severity of Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 unplanned outages and the patching actions related to each correspond to specific line item capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) costs for the business. Reliability, measured by downtime, can positively or negatively impact TCO and accelerate or delay ROI.

Improvements or declines in reliability also mitigate or increase technical and business risks to the organization’s end users and its external customers. The ability to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) hinges on server reliability, uptime and manageability. These are key indicators that enable organizations to determine which server operating system platform or combination thereof best suits the business needs.

Overall, these survey responses provide crucial, comparative reliability metrics to enable customers to make informed choices on which server hardware and server operating system or combination thereof, best suits their specific business and budgets needs.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In summary the ITIC 2012-2013 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability Survey findings indicates that all of the server operating system platforms have achieved a high degree of reliability. However, the IBM AIX 7.1 operating system, followed closely by Windows Server 2008 R2, HP UX 11i v3 and Novell SUSE Enterprise Linux 11 are the top four most reliable server OS distributions.

Server hardware reliability shows similar year-over-year improvements. Among the “work horse” mainstream systems, the IBM Power Systems i and p servers, HP Integrity, Fujitsu Primergy and SPARC and the Stratus ftServer 4500 have the highest levels of inherent reliability.

Organizations must have confidence in the reliability and stability of their server hardware and server OS platforms. The advances in technology suggested by the ITIC 2013 Global Server Hardware and OS Reliability Survey results are encouraging. Now companies must tackle other equally important and challenging issues to ensure the highest levels of uptime and reliability.

It is the responsibility of the vendors to deliver reliable products and top notch technical service and support. Corporations also bear responsibility for keeping their IT departments well staffed and providing the necessary training and certification to IT administrators. Achieving optimum uptime means upgrading refreshing server hardware as necessary in order to support more data intensive workloads and physical, virtual and cloud environments. Close attention must be paid to system integration and interoperability, patch management and documentation. Business performance will almost certainly suffer if server configurations are inadequate for current tasks and requirements.

The ITIC survey results show that even the most bulletproof hardware and software platforms can be undone by human error or lack of adequate manpower in the IT department. Companies should monitor their service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure that they meet the desired reliability levels. If they do not, corporations should ascertain the cause and make the necessary improvements.

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