Unisys offers ClearPath for Intel/MS-savvy mainframes

Trying to broaden the strategic appeal of its high-end server line, Unisys Corp. this week will deliver the next generation of its ClearPath mainframes that can support a mix of its own proprietary chip technology and that of Intel.

Through the company's Cellular Multi-Processing (CMP) technology, the new systems can support as many as 32 Intel chips, which can be field-upgraded to Intel Corp.'s Itanium processors when those chips become available. The technology also allows Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 to reside on the same system as the Unisys 2200 operating system.

The new mainframes include two new ClearPath server platforms in the CS7000 family that both come bundled with the 2200 operating system. The high-end model CS7802, which uses CMP and can contain a mix of Intel and Unisys chips, enables users to partition their computing resources on the fly and to adjust to varying workloads.

The lower-end model CS7101, which uses only Intel chips is also capable of supporting multiple operating environments, including Unisys MCP and Microsoft Windows operating systems. This model is designed to support more specialized applications, including Intel's Voice Source technology, a voice-mail system geared to the telecommunications market, company officials said.

"These systems are the next logical extension for [Unisys'] legacy mainframe users and is something that was very much needed. This also sets [Unisys] up in the future to be able to have a better mix of the architectures and have better interconnected systems in there," said John Phelps, vice president and research director of servers and storage at Gartner in Stamford, Conn.

The new systems received an endorsement from one software and services company, IT Centrix Inc., which keeps a database of IT benchmarks that examine the business value of companies' applications.

Citing one example, IT Centrix President and CEO David Vellante said a customer compared the costs of either upgrading its existing ClearPath system or making the transition to a server farm.

"They found that the application value from maintaining the ClearPath system was an order of magnitude greater than the likely IT budget savings derived from migrating to other systems," Vellante said.

Unisys will target the systems at e-business and several other application markets. To that end the systems are bundled with Unisys' Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP) middleware, which company officials said more closely integrates multiple operating environments.

The HMP middleware can work with several development environments, including Java, XML, IBM MQSeries, and Microsoft .NET.

Along with the new systems, Unisys has unveiled a new pricing model it calls Capacity on Demand. Prices are structured to better allow users to buy added computing capacity for unpredictable demands or emergencies.

The CS7101 is available in the US immediately; ClearPath CS7802 will be available in August.

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