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DataSynapse Upgrades Virtual SOA Clustering

DataSynapse today announced version 2.5 of FabricServer,
its platform aimed at spreading SOA and similar applications across
clusters of servers. DataSynapse describes this as application
virtualization, as it's aimed at achieving much the same as standard
server virtualization but doesn't have to involve multiple OSs. But in
many ways it's closer to grid computing, in that it aims to combine
multiple servers into one large computing resource, whereas
virtualization is mostly concerned with dividing up a single server.

In DataSynapse's architecture, all servers are initially configured
identically, with every required application installed on each alongside
the FabricServer software. This combines load balancing with
management, the former distributing requests to the appropriate server
while the latter allows administrators to divide the total compute
capacity between the installed applications. In a large cluster,
individual servers would likely be dedicated to a single application,
but this can easily be changed as all software is installed on all servers.

Like standard server virtualization, this can make an IT infrastructure
more flexible, though unlike virtualization it doesn't by itself help
much with consolidation. The disadvantage is that the DataSynapse
software needs to be able to support every application it's
managing, meaning that it won't necessarily work with everything. The
new version adds support for more Microsoft environments, including
.Net v3, SharePoint and IIS. It already supported previous versions of
.Net on Windows, and most Java platforms running under Linux, both of
which can run either on VMware or bare metal.

Most DataSynapse users will see the greatest benefits when using it
alongside VMware, as this allows multiple OS images to be installed
simultaneously. However, licensing could get expensive for off-the-shelf
apps, as each one will need to be licensed for every machine that it's
installed on, even if only a relatively small fraction of the available
capacity is actually used.

DataSynapse isn't the only company offering this kind of product. The
most successful is IBM, though its product is geared toward servers running
WebSphere applications, whereas DataSynapse can mix software from
multiple vendors. The closest competitor is probably Appistry, whose application
fabric
also distributes Java and .Net applications across multiple
servers but works in a different way, giving developers an API that lets
them access the clustering functionality directly.