IBM: Monterey isn't the end of AIX

IBM wants to reassure its Unix server customers that the coming of Project Monterey is not the swan song for traditional AIX, the company's version of Unix.

Scheduled for release in the third quarter next year, Monterey is a joint venture between the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), IBM and its newly acquired subsidiary, Sequent Computer. The three companies are developing a single Unix variant that will run on 32- and 64-bit -- or IA-64 -- Intel chips. Monterey will be available for Intel vendors to bundle on their servers, and IBM will put the operating system in its RS/6000 line. Other server manufacturers are also expected to support Monterey: For example, PC server giant Compaq has endorsed Monterey to run on its boxes.

IBM is hoping Monterey will strengthen its position in the Unix arena. The release of Monterey should pull in software developers and boost AIX's current revenue by two to three times, says Brad Day, an analyst with Giga Information Group. He notes, however, that IBM does not release sales figures for AIX.

With all the marketing hype surrounding Monterey, IBM has had to remind customers that Monterey will be primarily just a new -- albeit more powerful -- version of AIX, and not a brand-new operating system. Indeed, Monterey will be 90 per cent AIX, says Rajiv Samant, head of AIX at IBM. And applications running on Monterey can be easily ported to run on PowerPC AIX and vice-versa, he says. In fact, users should think of PowerPC AIX and IA-64 as the same operating system, he says.

After recompiling, Monterey should be able to handle existing AIX applications without any performance degradation, says Miles Barel, a program director for Unix at IBM. Incompatibility defects between one release of AIX to the next have been few, he notes. Even when AIX 4.3, which was the first version to have 64-bit computing power, was rolled out, there was only one case of application incompatibility.

Monterey may have a greater impact in SCO's UnixWare market, Day says. SCO users may choose to abandon UnixWare and use Monterey to get 64-bit computing as well as its advanced clustering capabilities. "I see a major migration to the combined UnixWare-AIX Monterey technologies," he says.

Other promised Monterey features include support for IA-64 clusters of 32 nodes, up from today's four- to six-node clusters; the ability to handle 32-way symmetric multiprocessing systems, up from today's 16-way systems; and an increase in maximum individual file sizes from 1 terabyte to 8 terabytes.

Part of Project Monterey will be the incorporation of Non-Uniform Memory Access technology from Sequent into the Intel and the PowerPC AIX flavors. However, IBM says that although the software will be ready by sometime next year, it will probably require additional time until the company's server hardware architecture is prepped.

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