NCR comes into the Sun-light

Besides making the move to run Teradata on NT, NCR Corp. has used the stage of the Partners Users Group Conference to announce that it has turned to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris as its Unix operating system of choice.

"NCR is not in the operating system business," explained Lars Nyberg, NCR chairman and CEO. "We chose Solaris because we think it has the best opportunity to be the market leader. And if in the future we feel as if we've made the wrong decision we will switch. I've no holy mission other than to make NCR successful."

In turning to Solaris, NCR plans to eventually give up its support for MP-RAS, its own proprietary Unix OS, but that day is still far in the future, according to Larry Vertal, director of product marketing for NCR.

"We will continue to support and continue to do enhancements to MP-RAS including support of the 32-bit Intel processors until the year 2005.

"We have a customer base that needs to be informed early. Right now the target for moving our Teradata customers over to Solaris is in conjunction with the Merced time frame, and that means we're giving them a four year warning."

Instead of suggesting one big data move, NCR is encouraging its customers to stagger their migration. For starters, Vertal suggest that MP-RAS 3.02 users running 32-bit applications and looking for LifeKeeper clustering feature kits move to Solaris 2.7 when it is released at the end of the year. For the 64-bit application users, he suggests that the move should first be made to MP-RAS 3.0.2.XX, and then to Solaris Version N, which is expected at the end of 1999. For NCR's large Teradata users, the suggestion is to wait until the release of Solaris N+1, which is scheduled for six months after the release of Intel's Merced chip.

NCR users shouldn't feel abandoned by this move, Vertal said, especially since NCR is working closely with Sun.

"We are offering clustering capabilities to Sun along with rock-solid drivers. We have spent enormous amounts of money on hardening the drivers and the low-level procedures. NCR is working with Solaris' engineers on hardening the kernel for Intel."

Still, it was clear that not everything in NCR's stable will be fully supported. During a presentation, one unhappy customer said he will be unable to convert his 5100 to Solaris when he converts the rest of his shop.

His 5100 box is a microchannel based (MCA) platform and that, according to Vertal, is where NCR will draw the line in terms of Solaris conversions.

"The key," Vertal said, "are the microchannel-based platforms. We will continue to support those with MP-RAS through 2005 and during that time we will be seeing our services enhance the PCI/non-MCA platforms. That way even if somebody purchased a 5100, it would continue to function well beyond its depreciation date."

As well as the Intel-based Solaris, NCR announced that they would be implementing Teradata on SPARC boxes. That too is expected to occur within the Merced time frame, although Vertal strongly hinted that it will come far sooner than that.

Source - ComputerWorld Canada

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