Organizations which depend on a secure, up-and-running database for their very survival simply cannot afford the risk of either a hardware or software failure. IS managers now demand systems that provide near-instantaneous replication, redundant hardware backup, recovery protection and failure prevention down to the component level. When a single failure can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost transactions--not to mention severe damage to an IS management career--it's no wonder that fault tolerance is of growing interest to the database management community. To meet this need, companies such as Tandem, Stratus, Sequoia and others now offer machines that literally will not fail. Virtually everything about them, from CPUs to disk drives to basic memory, is redundant and hot-swappable. If a component fails, you simply walk around to the cabinet and slide in a ready-to-run replacement. That's a great comfort if you are running true mission-critical applications, but that peace of mind comes at a considerable price.

Even a low-end Tandem box running UNIX can cost upward of $100,000, and high-end fault tolerant systems can run millions of dollars. Those are daunting investments for many organizations.

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