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In the Cause of True Love

Following ‘The Night of the Long Knives” at the end of last year, which saw Unisys decimated in the UK and the sad loss of a number of my friends there, it looks very much as if the company has tightened its belt and is bouncing back with a multimillion-dollar global marketing campaign to convince the owners of those expensive, Sun IBM and Hewlett Packard boxes that the ES7000, ‘Windows Mainframe’ is the way to go for any intelligent corporation that should decide that Unix has passed its sell by date.
Of course, this comes with a little friendly help from Microsoft, which badly needs support at the high-end of the Enterprise for Windows Datacenter– one of the reasons why the HP – Compaq Merger would be a good thing from the Seattle perspective – .

Interestingly enough the company has launched a website www wehavethewayout.com and something called an eCommunity, a technical forum, crammed with supporting bet time reading such as “Data Center Simplification and Consolidation" – “A comprehensive guide to the key issues facing today's Data Center Managers”. I suspect that this is initiative is very much driven by the US Unisys parent, as I’m not entirely sure that temperamentally we’re quite ready for a spell of ‘Care in the eCommunity’.
Strangely though, the eCommunity’s diary of events appears to be stuck in July 2001 on my browser – Yes definitely stuck – but that’s not unusual for the Unisys site in my experience. Lots of Golf but they could do with something a little more imaginative as a calendaring application. And the Unisys site still has a late nineties feel about it.

I’ve said many times that Unisys, as a company, has some great technology, particularly, what I lovingly call ‘Fat Bird’ the ES7000 (SMP) Server, which launches Microsoft to the dizzy heights of the Enterprise. I even heard it suggested last year by one relatively senior Unisys executive, that Microsoft might even buy or license the ES7000 or that Unisys might spin-out its hardware business and keep the consultancy business, where it does well. This isn’t as wacky as it sounds, although if you think about it, Microsoft puts a toe in the water with the X-Box and then moves on and up with an ES7000 bundle. The best of both worlds for some people I know.

Seriously though, Unisys has staked the future of the company on Windows DataCenter and the ES7000 and yet the company is looking a little isolated in an increasingly commoditised market, dominated by a handful of players or partnerships with end-to-end solutions. The Microsoft / Unisys connection is very much a marriage of convenience and it’s close to symbiosis. Whether they are actually good partners, from a cultural or emotional perspective is irrelevant. They need each other to achieve a high-end future for Windows for one partner and continued survival in a viciously competitive hardware market for the other.

All that’s missing now is the ring.

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