In over 10 years I have never met anyone who has used both VCS and another cluster product who says the other cluster product is better. VCS wins easily as it is easy to use with VCS GUI and has tons of functionality and agents for all major apps and replication products. Also as it is hetrogenous you can use it for all main UNIX/Linux variants and Windows. For a small company where you only have 1 or 2 simple clusters then O/S based clusters (Sun cluster, IBM HACMP, MSCS etc) can suffice and are cheaper, but once you have more clusters it is often actually cheaper to use VCS as its flexiblity means you can usually gain the same or higher HA using fewer nodes, it is quicker to install and if you require clusters on multiple platforms then you can save on training too.
We use SFWHA and are very satisfied with that. But I get questions like: Why not use Microsoft (As it is free)? My knowledge of MSC is not that good to answer this question satisfactorily.
Previous MSC versions were easier to configure and use than VCS but lacked some features making it impossible for us to use. But recently I created a MSC on Microsoft's LAB environment and the "easy/less complex" is gone. No "next, next, finish" anymore. So that leaves us with functionality. We use synchrone mirroring accross two datacentres and that is still not possible. As far as I understand an outage of one site leads to a manual intervention.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find a good comparison (technical) between the two cluster solutions. So any help in this is appreciated.
I'm not a sales guy but I can provide some insight on a few items.
SFW-HA is more flexible than MSCS/WFC. SFW-HA can be configured to cluster many applications that MSCS/WFC cannot. SFW-HA allows you to tuned to work with your specific environment, configuration or business needs where MSCS/WFC.
SFW-HA with GCO and either VVR or a supported hardware replication technology, allows for truely Global Clustering and increased High Availablity due to not being restricted to a single site or by keeping cluster nodes within a limited geographical distance.
The Storage Foundation product suite supports many platforms not just Windows. As such, administrators can learn the product on one platform and apply that knowledge to all platforms without retraining.
SFW-HA can be used with standard editions of both the Windows and common Microsoft applications such as SQL and Exchange.
Lets be honest here, MSCS/WFC is not really free. It is only available on Enterprise and Datacenter editions of Windows. These editions do cost more than Standard edition. The Microsoft Applciation that run on Enterprise and Datacenter must also be at the same edition and are higher cost than standard editions of these same applications. MSCS/WFC cannot be used with Standard editions so there is more cost involved if your only need for using Enterprise or Datacenter is for clustering Microsoft Applications.
If you are considering using SFW-HA verse MSCS/WFC, I would recommend that you contact Symantec Sales. They should have comparison documents available that compare SFW-HA with common competitors on the Windows platforms.
Something else to bear in mind is that SFWHA does not modify the applications in any way to be "Cluster Aware". The applications are essentially installed as standalone on each node and simply controlled by VCS. WSFC on the other hand modifies the applications to be a "clustered" install and hence makes registry changes to reflect the install state.
SFWHA also offers proactive disaster recovery testing through features such as FIREDRILL and VIRTUAL FIREDRILL (VCS is the only clustering product on the market to offer this) and centralised management and reporting from Veritas Operations Manager (VOM).
VCS also has no dependency on a Quorum disk resource or majority node voting algorythm and does not require any network addresses for the local cluster heartbeat mechanisms (VCS Low Latency Transport (LLT) and Group Membership Services (GAB) are all layer 2 protocols)
WSFC is not free, it is tiered to the MS Windows enterprise license, VCS can be installed on Standard editions of Windows. The WSFC administration console is poor at best and has not graphical representation of resources and dependencies.
As previously noted, once you administer a VCS cluster on any platform you have the skills to administer VCS on all other platforms.
VCS continues to be the market leader in high availability, and with the new features (fast failover etc) in VCS 6.0 and VOM 4.0 advanced I believe it will continue to lead.
Hope that helps some.
You may also want to look at http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/about/media/industryanalysts/Gartner_Clustering_Software_Marke... for an independent opinion - this says:
Could you clarify, exactly what you are looking for - in terms of matertial for VCS, it has the following features which are not availble in many other clustering solutions:
If this is not what you are looking for, please explain what you are looking for.
Asking why someone chooses to pay for VCS over using "free" native tools from the OS vendor is always a fair question. The best answer may be another question: Why do so many people choose to pay for VCS when they could be using something that's free, or at least less costly?
The answer to that is simple in that you get what you pay for. OS vendor-supplied solutions are adequate, but who wants to entrust their most mission-critical applications to something that's merely adequate? Then, too, we could get into an hours-long discussion over features and capabilities in VCS that render the cost difference irrelevant.
I'd be more than happy to help if you find yourself having to defend VCS against any other HA cluster solution.