Companies Recast Platforms for Workload Consolidations

Part 2: Unisys serves up all-in-one mainframe, Windows, Linux consolidation solutions

In our last issue we examined IBM's iSeries and zSeries solutions. In the second part of our series on workload consolidation, we look at Unisys' ClearPath Plus and ES7000.

Like IBM’s iSeries, Unisys’ flagship ClearPath Plus systems amount to nothing less than server consolidation jacks-of-every-trade. A single ClearPath Plus system can simultaneously host a legitimate mainframe operating environment—Unisys’ MCP or OS2200 mainframe operating systems—even as it supports both high-end (Windows 2000 Datacenter Server Edition) and midrange (Windows 2000 Advanced Server) flavors of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 2000 operating system. Customers with Unix applications can also choose from either of two flavors of Unix—UnixWare 7 or Open Unix 8—from Unisys partner Caldera International Inc. Both operating systems are certified to run on Unisys’ hardware.

Unisys’ ClearPath Plus mainframes exploit a technology called Cellular Multiprocessing (CMP) that makes it possible to literally mix and match processor architectures. A single ClearPath Plus system can be populated with Unisys’ own proprietary microprocessors, which are designed to support its MCP and OS2200 operating environments, along with standard IA-32 and IA-64 chips from Intel Corp.

Rodney Sapp, director of ClearPath marketing with Unisys, says that ClearPath Plus gives his company’s traditional mainframe customers an excellent way to introduce and consolidate open systems workloads on their mainframe hardware as well. “They … understand that there are all kinds of applications and uses for an open implementation like they have [with the ClearPath Plus]. They have Intel and they have Windows, so they can almost create any type of topology and deployment that they need.”

Unisys’ ClearPath Plus systems are marketed primarily to existing ClearPath mainframe shops. Unisys’ expectation is that as Microsoft’s Windows 2000 Server Datacenter Edition operating system matures, customers in its legacy mainframe environments will choose to transition away from MCP or OS2200 to 32- or 64-bit versions of Microsoft’s flagship operating system.

“The ES7000 and its variants are intended to replace their legacy mainframes,” asserts Tony Iams, a senior analyst with consultancy D.H. Brown & Associates. “They want to move these old customers off of the [ClearPath] mainframes and onto Windows.”

ES7000

In its ES7000 Intel-based server, Unisys markets another large system, also based on its CMP technology, that can scale up to 32-processors and which supports up to 128 GB of RAM. Like the company’s ClearPath Plus mainframes, the ES7000 is a hardware marvel of the type that can support a mixture of Intel IA-32 and IA-64 chips. It can also support Windows 2000 Server Datacenter Edition, Unixware 7 and OpenUnix 8. Unlike the ClearPath Plus, however, the ES7000 cannot support the MCP and OS2200 mainframe operating systems.

Unisys takes pains to position the ES7000 as a platform for server consolidation. According to Mark Feverston, vice president for the enterprise server market with Unisys, the ES7000 can support any combination of IA-32 (Xeon) and IA-64 (Itanium) chips. As a matter of fact, it’ll even support mixing IA-64 “McKinley” (current Itanium 2) and IA-64 “Madison” (forthcoming Itanium 2) processors, as Unisys demonstrated at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in September.

The ES7000 is targeted primarily at shops that need to consolidate distributed Windows or Unix systems. “There’s people consolidating servers, that’s driving [ES7000 uptick]. It’s a very strong migration platform. We can go to customers and say ‘If you want to run Windows, you can. If you want to run Unix, you can.’ You can put all of these [workloads] on a single system.”

Next week: HP

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.