There is a server that, by modern standards anyway, has been running for considerably longer than a lifetime. Where most modern digital technology has a short life, often built in, it may surprise some that the Stratus Fault Tolerant Server used in Michigan, USA, and first booted up in 1993, remains switched on and providing service to this very day. What makes this old timer’s tenure even more astonishing is that during that time it has run continuously, day and night; not once has it been shut down due to fault or failure.
Twenty-four years is a long time in any respect, let alone where computer hardware is concerned. 1993, the year the system first switched on, was Bill Clinton’s first year as President of the USA but more significantly it was the year Intel released the first ever Pentium Processor; Windows NT 3.1 was the most cutting edge operating system of the time and at CERN the World Wide Web was being born.
This particular Stratus server’s longevity and adversity to failure can be partly attributed to the fact that it is a ‘fault tolerant’ system, which basically means it can function even when certain components fail. However, even taking this into account, the fact that it has run non-stop for such a long time has made the Stratus something of a hero in the world of server technology. Another reason for the system’s apparent immunity to time and the unrelenting pummelling of progress, is because of its simplicity.
In most respects the Stratus serve is still perfectly fit for purpose and users find the simple green screen and the way information is displayed refreshing in an ever-complicated world of complex graphics and seemingly unnecessary information. This simplicity of design also extends to Stratus’s internals which are easily repaired and reconditioned without the need to pull the plug or even relegate it to base functionality.
Sadly, nothing can last forever and as it triumphantly motors on into its 24th year, the Stratus server at Great Lakes World, Michigan, USA will finally be turned off and finally laid to rest. With the recent sale of the Great Lakes Works, which is home to the United States Steel Corporation and where Stratus has purred away for nearly two and a half decades, along with the unrelenting pummel of progress finally smashing through its armour of veneration and simplicity, Stratus’s tenure is finally coming to an end.
We at NCN salute this peerless Stratus server and its status as what must be one of the oldest functioning systems of its kind. We also can’t help thinking that the new server that will replace the old will have vast shoes to fill, and god forbid it should ever go wrong.