Unisys Answers T-Rex with Dorado

Striving to answer chief competitor IBM’s launch last week of the zSeries z990 mainframe, code-named T-Rex, Unisys Monday took the wraps off a new line of mainframes geared for Web services, and also introduced infrastructure consulting services to help organizations extend their legacy systems.

The new Dorado family fills out Unisys’ ClearPath Plus mainframe line, replacing the existing ClearPath CS7402 and CS7802 models with the Dorado 110, Dorado 140 and Dorado 180.

“The high-end, the 180, is the one that’s going to be compared to the z990,” said Steve Goldner, director of ClearPath marketing.

Unlike the z990, which ships with 16-way capabilities and will then see an operating system upgrade to bring it up to full 32-way support, Goldner said 32-way capabilities in a single image are available for the Dorado line now. The new mainframes include partitions with Intel Xeon processors, improved system management tools, and ship with “an extensive Web services-ready middleware portfolio,” according to the company.

All three mainframes are built on the Cellular MultiProcessor (CMP) platform,with Intel Xeon MP subpods, integrated control over Unisys’ OS 2200, Windows and Unix operating environments, and Sentinel self-healing, self-management technologies.

The high-end Dorado 180 scales up to 32 OS 2200 processors in a single image and can support up to 24 Xeon processors in one or two domains. Its claim to fame is the capacity on demand capabilities which now includes its performance redistribution feature. The company has offered capacity on demand — which give IT administrators the ability to increase or decrease capacity or processing requirements as needed, for 18 months. The performance redistribution feature introduced with the Dorado 180 adds the ability to shift performance among independent environments or applications on the fly. For instance, Unisys said the feature will allow an enterprise to run online processing during the day and reallocate resources at night — without reboots — to maximize the efficiency of batch processing.

The company said performance redistribution helped sell the Swedish National Tax Board (RSV) on its ClearPath Plus Dorado Model 180, which has capacity for 200 million instructions per second (MIPS). RSV will use the servers to run its central tax assessment system.

“RSV have very high requirements for reliability and a user population of 13,000,” said Lars Brodin, information technology manager for RSV. “We needed the flexibility to distribute and balance workloads quickly to adjust to changing demands. With the performance capability of the ClearPath Plus Model 180, we can focus performance where we need it, when we need it, and maintain the uninterrupted levels of service required to maintain our operations.”

The entry-level Dorado 110, designed for application development and testing, disaster recovery and business continuance, offers up to two OS 2200 processors and support for up to eight Intel Xeon processors.

The Dorado 140 takes the CS7402’s place as the company’s midrange mainframe, scaling from eight to 16 OS 2200 processors, with support for eight to 24 Xeon processors in one or two domains.

Unisys sees the new line as defining the ‘modern mainframe,’ and sees them as key to unlocking the market for legacy system integration, allowing firms to extend the utility and efficiency of their infrastructures.

“Although legacy systems contain useful business knowledge, extracting that value remains difficult,” said the March 2003 Gartner report, “Legacy Modernization Provides Applications for Tomorrow.”

To latch onto that opportunity, the Dorado line features a new middleware component which uses standards-based Web services integration tools — including J2EE, and .NET — to open up legacy systems to the rest of the IT infrastructure. This allows firms to avoid migration costs while automating business processes, easing system management headaches and cutting costs.

“We’re taking the mainframe and extending it to other components in a heterogeneous IT environment,” Goldner said.

Finally, the firm unwrapped its suite of ClearPath infrastructure services, through which it offers up technology consultants, system architects and mainframe engineers to help customers get the most out of new or existing mainframe assets. Unisys’ services cover integration, infrastructure, business continuance, security, performance optimization and platform modernization.

Unisys is supporting OS 2200, Unix and Windows for the line, but not Linux, a cornerstone of IBM’s T-Rex strategy. On the other hand, Goldner said that Linux does run on ClearPath systems and Unisys partner SCO Group can support Linux for those systems, though that company is having its own problems with Linux currently.

“When you buy something from Unisys, you get full support from Unisys,” Goldner said. “Linux falls out of that picture for us. There is another vendor there that does that. We haven’t put it through the applications tests. At this point we’re not hedging bets on the Linux future. It’s nice to know that it runs on our partitions. We haven’t pushed it with the aggressiveness that IBM has.”

A stripped down version of the company’s Dorado 110 starts at under $100,000, Goldner said, which he said gives the company the opportunity to reach out to certain markets, especially vertical markets, that might not otherwise look at the company’s line. “You can grow into a system of millions and millions of dollars,” he added. “That’s a function of performance.”