Stratus Computer Inc., ratcheting up long-standing plans to diversify its hardware-driven business, has set up a new software unit and hired a well-known banking systems specialist to run it.

Following the lead of other hardware vendors that have sought to expand their horizons, the Marlboro, Mass.-based maker of fault-tolerant computers has been gradually moving deeper into the areas of software sales and consulting work - primarily through acquisitions - for the past year and a half.

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