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Mirror applications on Linux Server

If there is a better forum for this, let me know and I will post my
questions there.

I am building an application which needs to have high reliability.  I
have two essentially identical Linux servers which can host the
application.  Right now, I have the programs - a bash script and a c
binary, running on one machine every minute in a cron job.  I also have
an rsync cron job running to synchronize the files on the standby
machine so the data (and binaries, of course) will be identical.  What
I need to do is have the standby machine take over operations if the
applications on the primary machine quite working, for whatever reason. 
Of course I can easily ping the primary to make sure the machine is up,
but what is going to be my best bet for having the standby machine wake
up and start running the apps every minute until such time as the
primary comes back online?  I'm wide open on how to implement.  An
external application would be great, or I could write either or both c
or shell apps to have the two machines talk to one another.

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