High-availability server ensures centralized IT network access for German automaker

MAN Nutzfahrzeuge—a Munich-based vehicle manufacturer that sold 80,000 commercial vehicles and 7,300 buses in 2006—places a premium on a high level of server availability. After successfully using high-availability software and service solutions from Marathon Technologies for a few years, leadership at MAN's commercial vehicles unit decided to do more.

12/01/2007


MAN Nutzfahrzeuge —a Munich-based vehicle manufacturer that sold 80,000 commercial vehicles and 7,300 buses in 2006—places a premium on a high level of server availability.

After successfully using high-availability software and service solutions from Marathon Technologies for a few years, leadership at MAN's commercial vehicles unit decided to do more. Specifically, MAN upgraded to Marathon's everRun FT software, which synchronizes two standard Windows servers to create a virtual application running on both servers. The solution would further protect files and applications, and ensure continuous server availability, says Asmir Hrustanbegovic, an IT specialist for MAN IT Services who oversees MAN Group servers.

To start, staff members in varied locations were using laptops without direct access to company data or applications, and some outlets were using outdated software. MAN IT Services set up a series of MS Terminal/Citrix Farms to handle all updates centrally and improve the efficiency of the unit's operations across Germany. This effectively established a centralized network that allowed all staff, regardless of their location, to access all key applications and receive regular system updates.

Being able to manage all applications centrally from Munich has advantages. Chief among them, says Hrustanbegovic, is that MAN IT Services is able to install new software for all outlets at once. On the other hand, the practice also makes it critical for all servers to be continuously available.

“The consequences of any unscheduled downtime would not only jeopardize production at the factory in Munich, but also at the unit's 240 outlets. In practice, if an employee was unable to connect to the central network because a server was down, all data concerning customers and products would be unavailable,” Hrustanbegovic says. “Many of our employees would be unable to do their jobs, and we would have many unhappy customers.”



Company:
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, a European vehicle maker with 34,000 employees worldwide.
Challenge:
Protect files and applications, and ensure continuous server availability.
Solution:
Marathon everRun FT, everRun HA, SplitSite high-availability solutions from Marathon Technologies; Microsoft Windows 2000/2003; Citrix Server Farm; process control and production control software
Result: Creation of a business-continuity solution that eliminates the need for costly and complex failover processes, specialized applications, or proprietary server hardware.

The solution for MAN IT Services was to use Marathon's everRun FT, which allows two servers to operate simultaneously in 100-percent lockstep. This means two Microsoft Windows servers with the same software, applications, and data create a single virtual environment that is transparent to users. If one of the servers fails, no data is lost since the everRun environment keeps running with zero interruption on the remaining server. This creates a business-continuity solution that eliminates the need for costly and complex failover processes, specialized applications, or proprietary server hardware.

Depending on the level of importance of an application, MAN IT Services uses a single server, a Windows cluster, or a Marathon system—with the most important applications always running on everRun FT, says Hrustanbegovic.

“We never put mission-critical applications on normal servers,” Hrustanbegovic says. “We use everRun FT to guarantee constant user access to mission-critical data and applications.”

IT Services also makes use of Marathon's SplitSite, which functions as an additional layer of protection against larger-scale failures and disasters. The two physical servers within the everRun FT environment are geographically separated, which eliminates the risk of downtime associated with complete site outages.

“We would only be in trouble if both physical servers failed,” Hrustanbegovic says. “However, this is extremely unlikely even in theory. We're confident our applications are continuously available with this technology.”



PROFILE

Company : MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, a European vehicle maker with 34,000 employees worldwide.

Challenge : Protect files and applications, and ensure continuous server availability.

Solution : Marathon everRun FT, everRun HA, SplitSite high-availability solutions from Marathon Technologies; Microsoft Windows 2000/2003; Citrix Server Farm; process control and production control software

Result : Creation of a business-continuity solution that eliminates the need for costly and complex failover processes, specialized applications, or proprietary server hardware.



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