SUMMARY 2: Veritas Cluster Server

From: Alex Gorbachev (
Date: Fri Mar 17 2000 - 09:18:22 CST

Many thanks to all who replied to the second question. VCS appears to be a
solid good product, actually better (more powerful and easier to use) than
FirstWatch. FirstWatch _really_is_goig_away at the end of 2001.

It's a good idea to go to training on VCS prior to installing or operating it.


From: Paul Pescitelli <>

Yes, FirstWatch is being discontinued. What kind of specifics would you
like on VCS, I am a certified VCS Engineer.. It is truly a great product
and does not have the specific hardware requirements like Sun Cluster
does.. I have deployed 4 VCS installations in the last 5 months, two of
them were with Fibre Channel arrays. All but one of them is an Oracle
database, the other one is Netscape Enterprise Server.


Having used both I can attest that VCS is a more comprehensive HA product
then FirstWatch. FW is being discontinued, but will remain supported until
the end of 2001. This comes straight from Veritas since we have a heavy
investment in FW.

We prefer VCS over FW for many reasons. Mostly it's ease in mgmt, and
adding new nodes to the cluster Without requiring a reboot! It has more
built in agents then FW, and since you mentioned Fibre-Channel - if your
using EMC. Clariion or StorageTek Fibre-channel products, there is a
product called "ATF" (Auto Tresspass Feature) that will sense if a FCAL or
FPORT is unavailable, and move all I/O to the second FC card or SP
controller. This has an VCS agent, but if configured correctly, it can be
made to be invisible to the host and VCS.

VCS also uses whats called GAB (Global Atomic Broadcast) to sync cluster
state, and configuration with ALL members of the cluster auto-magically.
This keeps all your cluster nodes in sync without moving config files. It
communicates via LLT, which is another proprietary network protocol,
instead of IP. Why? Ever Ping a host that is down?? With FW it's possible
to create a false positive - thus failing to recongnise a failover
condition. With LLT/GAB, All cluster members communicate and actually do
something (not ping) to determine availability status. Pretty cool stuff if
you ask me.

The only thing we really care for is the VCS Java based GUI. It's way too
slow IMHO, and once you learn command line options, you get a better
understanding of what is really going on. The good thing about the GUI is
it has an NT and Solaris client, so you can have operations monitor cluster
state without knowing Solaris, or requiring a machine login account.

I highly recommend VCS training before implimentation!! it's worth the $$
plus some. besides, Most VARS require that they do inicial install for a
nominal fee -- like $12-20K! For less the $2k, you can be trained on VCS
and learn why you can bring up a simple NFS cluster in less the 15 mintues
- again without a reboot!

Original message:

>The consensus is that FirstWatch is indeed getting discontinued, desupported
>and completely replaced with VCS. I have received one positive response
>about VCS being "far better" than FirstWatch. I have not received a lot of
>details on VCS. If anyone has any specifics, especially concerning fibre
>channel storage, please mail and I'll re-summary.
>Thanks to all who replied:
>From: "Lee Trujillo" <>
>Yes this is true, we've had to have our current Pro Services engineer
>who was certified with FirstWatch get certified for VCS. We are
>currently using it in our production facility.
>In talking to the Engineer, he says to use VCS, it is far better.
>From: "Mark Sherman" <>
>i just finished a vcs class @ veritas, and the instructor said just the
>opposite - he didn't
>see fw disappearing anytime soon.
>From: "Seth Rothenberg" <>
>We use firstwatch, and we are getting a new configuration soon...
>From: "Rasana Atreya" <>
>You might get more info at Veritas' mailing lists. Check out:
>From: "Bernstein, Zmira" <>
>It seems that FirstWatch is now a subset of Cluster Server.
>Original message:
>>Hello, I heard that Veritas is discontinuing FirstWatch sales and support
>>and replacing it with Cluster Server product. Does anyone have any
>>experience with CS vs. FirstWatch and Solstice?
>>Many thanks,
>>Alex Gorbachev

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