Stratus is to offer users high availability within a single server using VMware's Infrastructure Foundation together with its own system for fault-tolerance.

The company has created "a purpose-built high-availability server," said Denny Lane, director of product management at Stratus. "We let the hardware run all the time so VMware can do its thing."

Stratus is making VMware Infrastructure Foundation available free for customers who purchase its ftServer. The SMP fault-tolerant architecture, Stratus says, is designed to avoid downtime and data loss, support as many as eight processor cores, and run both Windows and Linux applications on a single server.

When taken together, ftServer and VMware can offer five nines of availability while also lowering cost and complexity by reducing the number of servers, software licences, Fibre Channel switches, and high-availability networks that customers' need, Lane claims.

"No, that is not too good to be true," said Laura DiDio, principal analyst at research and consulting firm Information Technology Intelligence Corp. (ITIC).

DiDio adds that as virtualisation use has increased, so has its complexity and management. "If something goes wrong, you've done a lot more collateral damage than you otherwise would have," she explains.

By ITIC's calculations, in a best-case scenario, a one-hour server outage that affects 100 users, requires the attention of two or three network administrators, but does not spread to customers or partners could cost a company $100,000 (£73,000) - and that, DiDio maintains, is a conservative estimate.

"Virtualisation is becoming more complex, and IT has to get a handle on it," DiDio said.

Stratus' Lane said that ftServer with VMware's Infrastructure Foundation, which includes VMware ESX hypervisor and an agent license for VMware VirtualCenter, was a low-cost alternative to Microsoft's Hyper-V.

"Down the road Stratus will also support Microsoft's Hyper-V," Lane added. "We haven't set a date yet."