Unisys unveils mainframe aimed at server consolidation

Unisys has released a new mainframe, its most powerful to date, aimed at enterprises that are consolidating servers and moving to Web services.

The system includes built-in .Net and Java support, the company said.

The ClearPath Plus Libra 185 can operate at 10,500 MIPS, a processing speed that's more than 400% above Unisys' previous top-line model. The company said the mainframe also includes substantial increases in memory and throughput.

The system, which will cost from US$1.1 million to $22.4 million depending on configuration, is intended to support the Unisys Business Blueprinting strategy, which was announced last month. Like Hewlett-Packard's adaptive enterprise, IBM's on-demand initiative and Sun Microsystems' N1, the strategy is intended to improve a company's ability to adapt its existing technology to changing business models.

Unisys said it has developed a set of vertical-industry-specific solutions, such as for insurance and airlines, to develop optimal business processes and weed out redundancies. An example of such a redundancy could include multiple places in an organization where customer names and contact information are entered.

Unisys said its new mainframe supports this strategy by allowing mainframe and package applications to run on one machine. This system can run the Unisys mainframe operating system, MCP, and up to eight partitions with other operating systems, including Linux and Windows. The next-in-line Libra model supports two partitions, and the move to eight partitions is "one of the key reasons why this supports the Blueprinting vision," said Rod Sapp, a Unisys director.

The mainframe, which can run up to 32 CMOS processors and 24 Intel Xeon processors, also includes support for utility-model computing.

Jean Bozman, an analyst at market research company IDC, said Unisys' mainframe supports development of Web services, allowing companies to create browser-like access to their legacy systems.

Few companies make mainframes anymore, and there has been a lot of interest by companies in clustering systems to run large applications. But Unisys' release of the Libra 185, as well as mainframe developments by IBM, indicates that the mainframe is still alive, said Bozman.

"It's also saying that the mainframe is getting updated," she said.

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