Count HP In on Unisys' 32-Way OEM Team

UnisysCorp. added another heavy hitter to the OEM lineup for its 32-way, Intel-basedES7000 Cellular MultiProcessing (CMP) server architecture -- Hewlett-PackardCo., via its HP NetServer.

Add that toCompaq Computer Corp.'s ProLiant ML770, also based on the ES7000 structure, andInternational Computers Ltd.'s ( direct OEM of the Unisys product, and itlooks like Unisys is on its way to making it big with the only box of its kindon the market -- especially with Windows 2000 Datacenter Server finally in thegame.

"Withina few months of the Datacenter release, we've seen a substantial increase inour sales," says Steve Holzman, spokesman for Unisys ( "We've had 120 percent growth inES7000 sales in the third quarter, compared with all of the first half of theyear."

It's nosecret that Unisys is counting heavily on the CMP to make a splash in theindustry. Having top players like HP ( and Compaq ( helps to increase volume, even though theproduct is sold under different brand names. But the credibility that comesalong with major market players means as much as the increased profit margin.Unisys may be well-respected in the industry, but it doesn't have the salesclout of HP or Compaq.

"Iwouldn't be surprised to see another large company or two sign on to OEM thisproduct," says David Friedlander, industry analyst at Giga InformationGroup Inc. ( "It's become clear that neitherCompaq nor HP have gotten very far in developing their own 32-ways at thispoint or they'd be willing to wait. They must see a real market potential forthis right now."

In itssales pitch, Unisys emphasizes the ability to partition the machine, which canbe split into eight partitions of four processors with each partition running adifferent operating system and application. Compaq has emphasized the muscle of32 processors. HP, which announced its agreement with Unisys at Microsoft'srecent Enterprise 2000 Server launch, plans to push both factors of the CMPplatform.

"Goingfrom four up to 32 processors works really well in Exchange when your trying toconsolidate servers," says Rich Archuleta, vice president and generalmanager of HP's network server division. "There are a lot of applicationswhere partitioning the server makes a lot more sense."

IBM Corp. ( promises adifferent 32-way route. For the first time, Big Blue is saying that the NUMAtechnology the company acquired with its acquisition of Sequent FinancialServices would support 32 processors on Datacenter Server “in the future.” IBMofficials declined to elaborate on a timetable or to detail how the NUMAsystems would get to 32 processors.

Friedlandersays that according to Unisys information, the company has more than 100 ES7000units shipped to customers, and maybe 300 more are deployed as labdemonstration models or try-and-buy units. Of these, about 100 will producerevenue. Considering Datacenter sales aren't expected to take off until nextspring or later, and that many customers aren't using the full potential of thesystem, he considers those numbers pretty impressive.

"Obviously,having HP on board helps, although Unisys gets lower margins and no servicerevenue from OEM boxes," Friedlander says. "But I'd say Unisys hasthe opportunity to ship hundreds and maybe even thousands of units long beforeany mass purchase of Datacenter."

Holzmansays benchmark tests for the ES7000 are expected around the end of the year,and that internal performance results as well as those on customer applicationshave been in line with Unisys expectations. There have been unconfirmed reportsthat scaling on SQL Server 2000 across 16 processors has been a problem.

"Iunderstand there still is some tuning being done on scaling SQL Server,"Friedlander says. "But I believe they're on course for benchmarking. SQLServer will be the primary box for this product."

The UnisysES7000 and Compaq ProLiant ML770 are shipping now. The HP NetServer 32-way isexpected to be available early next year.

Scott Bekker contributed to this story.