Unisys: Who Knew?

Unless you're already a customer, I'll bet one of the last places you'dthink of checking for multi-vendor storage management tools is Unisys,best known as a server supplier. But it turns out that the company doesplay in this space, and it may be worth a look if you're in this market.

Unisys recently introduced the Storage Sentinel, a SAN virtualizationdevice. It allows customers to manage their SAN data as one giant pool,from one console, with the goal of improving storage utilization rates.

The Sentinel's not a quick-and-dirty kind of solution; a "standard"implementation goes for around $200,000, Unisys says. But that priceincludes consulting and implementation services, too, not just the boxdumped at your door. When you sign up, Unisys also performs a free"discovery" workshop, to assess your current storage infrastructure andhelp figure out the best way to use the Sentinel given yourrequirements.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Storage Sentinel complements Unisys'sServer Sentinel technology for systems management, introduced in March.

I believe that the only way forward is a comprehensive softwareenvironment that automates as much as possible, for the entire ITinfrastructure. How you buy this software environment -- in pieces fromdifferent vendors or as a total integrated system from one supplier --will depend on your existing IT setup and your plans going forward. Buthowever you do this, it's worth some brain time to start to figure thisout -- it will help your company do more with less, and it will free upyour people to do the really hard stuff, things that only humans can do,instead of having to do routine maintenance or LUN masking.

The Sentinel starts shipping this week, and complies with the StorageNetworking Industry Association's Common Information Model.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Unisys, the company resultedfrom the 1986 merger of Sperry-Univac and Burroughs, and has roots goingback 115 years as a manufacturer of typewriters and adding machines (andlater computers). Sperry employees helped develop the world's firstgeneral-purpose, large-scale computer -- the ENIAC -- at the Universityof Pennsylvania. As a founding member of the BUNCH (mainframecompetitors of IBM's that mostly fell by the wayside in the 1980s),Unisys has certainly earned its enterprise computing chops.

Unfortunately, the company's been a bit Xerox-like, in that many in theindustry don't know much about its technology innovation and corestrengths. Its considerable customer base is particularly strong in thefinancial-services and government sectors.

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