Skip to main content
Don’t’ Mention the Penguin

Linux and Unisys don’t sit easily together in conversation and over lunch with Brian Hadfield, the Unisys (UK) Managing Director, I was told that it would be a ‘Cold day in hell’ before Unisys, the ‘Big Iron; company with its ES7000, would consider Linux as being a suitable platform for the heaviest Enterprise applications.

Unisys is very much wedded to the concept of the Windows Mainframe and approximately 20% of its UK revenue comes from hardware sales. However, with 74% of total 2001 company revenues coming from services, its business focus as smaller rival to the likes of IBM’s Global Services is clear.

Where both Sun and IBM might agree that Linux is ready for the big time, Hadfield doesn’t buy the Linux story and doubts that IBM at least, would ever seriously consider offering Linux to its larger customers as a serious ‘Top of the Enterprise’ solution. Edge of the Enterprise, maybe, which is Sun’s side of the argument but Linux, he feels, requires “more stability, more influence and more control” before Unisys could regard it seriously in the customer environments in which it works.

But with IBM having just bought PWC and Hewlett Packard having merged with Compaq, surely Unisys must be feeling like the ham in the proverbial sandwich? Hadfield, who is an able politician, admits that Unisys has to watch its giant rivals very closely but insists that the company has a high-end value proposition which gives it room for profitable co-existence and competition in both the services and the hardware business with the big three, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems.

One are, where Hadfield believes that Unisys can make a strong contribution, is in the development of the public sector. Reflecting this last week’s coverage on failing and costly government IT projects, he feels that Unisys experience with large IT projects can go a long way towards helping the public sector understand why such projects can fail and how to avoid the processes which lead to failure.

So, marks out of ten for Unisys? It’s a company I know well because of the work we did together on ASP and the datacenter hosting business. For them, as for many others, the ASP super-highway represented a very expensive dead-end and the company learned some hard and useful lessons as a consequence.

Going forward, Unisys has a great deal to recommend it, a powerful grip on the financial and transportation sectors, good management, experience and an impressive hardware platform in the shape of the ES7000. But regardless of the margins that Unisys hardware represents at a time of declining services revenue everywhere, I have to wonder how long the company could stay in the hardware business if the three largest Server gorillas start a price war.

I believe that ultimately Unisys real future must lie in the provision of highly specialised managed services and consultancy but time and the success of the Windows Mainframe in the Datacentrer may yet prove me wrong


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …