Unisys and Hyperion Partner for BI

Companies push a combined BI and financial-reporting solution based on the Unisys hardware and the Hyperion software

Unisys Corp. probably isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to business intelligence (BI), but the computing and services giant does have an established BI practice, as well as partnerships with several prominent BI players.

Last week, Unisys and one such vendor, Hyperion Solutions Corp., announced a new Business Performance Management (BPM) offering based on the company’s ES7000 Intel servers. The combined product, dubbed IT Optimization for BPM, is said to be tailored to the needs of customers undertaking large-scale financial consolidation.

In this respect, IT Optimization for BPM is similar to other Unisys BI efforts. In past partnerships with SAS Institute Inc., for example, Unisys has provided the hardware underpinnings for highly optimized data mining and BI-on-Linux solutions. In both cases, the company proffered a combination of its hardware and professional services expertise, along with BI software from SAS.

Ditto for IT Optimization for BPM; it promises to deliver a scalable foundation for financial reporting and BI. On the scalability front, of course, Unisys’ ES7000—which the company describes as an Intel-based mainframe—is a mature and established platform, with nearly five years under its belt. The ES7000 can scale to support as many as 32 processors, can support mixed 32-bit and 64-bit workloads (using either Intel’s 64-bit Xeon chips or native 64-bit Itanium 2 processors), and runs a variety of Unix- and Linux-based operating systems, in addition to Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003.

These very qualities are what the two partners are most anxious to amplify in their marketing. To that end, Hyperion and Unisys touted the results of a joint test designed to demonstrate the unique performance characteristics of the ES7000, at least as a platform for high-end financial reporting and BI—in short, the stuff of which BPM is made.

The test purports to compare the performance of a single 16-way ES7000 server running Windows Server 2003 with three commodity Windows servers and a single Unix server, boasting a total of 14 processors. It might seem like a no-brainer—16 CPUs is more than 14, after all—but linear scalability (that is, when a four-way server is twice is fast as a two-way, for example) has long been the Achilles heel of SMP systems.

More to the point, Hyperion and Unisys want to demonstrate the value (in terms of reduced administrative TCO) of a single, consolidated financial-reporting and BI platform. Hyperion and Unisys say the 16-way ES7000 system outperformed the distributed systems, supporting nearly four times as many users and reducing query response times. The two partners also published a benchmark in which four Unix-based commodity servers and a single Windows database server were positioned against a single ES7000; in this case, the Unisys system supported 150 percent more users.

The lesson, officials claim, is obvious: Hyperion’s Performance Suite not only runs better on the ES7000—the two companies also published benchmarks in which Unisys’ Intel mainframe held its own against much larger Unix SMP systems—but is cheaper to administer to boot.

“The Hyperion Business Performance Management solution based on Unisys ES7000 servers provides dynamic resource allocation and infrastructure scalability which greatly simplifies mission critical, end-to-end BPM deployment and management in a high-availability environment,” said Rich Clayton, vice president of product marketing for Hyperion, in a statement. “This lowers the total cost of ownership while providing a leading-edge system without compromise.”

About the Author

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