Unisys offers pay-per-use mainframe

Unisys on Monday introduced a new line of its ClearPath mainframe servers, one of which will be available with a pay-per-use pricing model that will save customers between 20 and 30 percent on the cost of their big iron, according to the company.

The new line, called the ClearPath Plus Libra 500, is comprised of one midrange system -- the Libra 520 -- based on Intel's Gallatin multiprocessor Xeon chip, and two systems -- the Libra 580 and Libra 590 -- that will support either Xeon processors or the Unisys MCP CMOS processor.

Unisys has already begun introducing the pay-per-use Libra 590 to its customers, said Rod Sapp, the director of marketing for ClearPath at Unisys. "We got our first alpha customer in the first quarter of 2003," said Sapp. "Just like your cell phone minutes they will pre-pay for so much performance on a monthly basis. Then we measure their usage, and if they exceed that, they get a bill for that at the next month," he said.

The Libra 590 uses software called the Utilization Sentinel that lets customers actually slow down or speed up the level of system usage available to their mainframe applications, depending how much they want to spend each month. "They get to make those decisions themselves, versus the vendor making the decisions for them," Sapp said.

Unisys has been working on a port of the open source JBoss J2EE application server to the ClearPath's MCP operating system, and it expects to begin shipping and supporting JBoss with the Libra 500s later this year.

Pricing for the systems, which are available immediately, ranges from US$300,000 to $1.8 million. An eight-processor Libra 520, for example, costs approximately $500,000, Sapp said.

Unisys declined to disclose the range of its pay-per use pricing.

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