When in Rome

"Two of the fairest stars in all the heavens, having some business....."

Rumour has it, that Microsoft is preparing a new weapon in its struggle against the spreading Penguin threat to the Enterprise. A glimpse of a possible collaborative Server effort involving Unisys was recently photographed in the South of France and is seen below.

Adding extra punch to the Unisys ES7000 chassis, this new 31-way SMP unit is more mobile than its predecessors and is said to be more than capable of 'seeing off' any efforts to infiltrate Linux into the datacentre.

The final development cost of this new, smart Server, codenamed ''Fatbird'', has yet to be revealed but is likely to prove attractive. Considerable effort has been applied to both its appearance and the security aspect of its design, as Microsoft celebrates the 'birthday' of its Trustworthy Computing initiative, launched a year ago this month.

Reports suggest that X-Box compatibility may be a feature of the unit.

If that was very much 'tongue in cheek'; then being serious for a moment, 2002 was a much better year for Unisys from a profitability perspective, turning the previous year's pre tax loss of $46.5m into a respectable pre-tax profit of $332.8m, a small ray of sunshine in an otherwise 'annus horriblis' for hardware vendors.

According to Ovum Holway, Unisys' performance in Q4 was particularly strong, with operating margins doubling (from Q4 01) to 9.7%. This was mostly driven by an improvement in services operating margins - up from 3% this time last year, to 7.1%. The company also closed a number of "very significant long-term services contracts". with nearly $800m long-term outsourcing and managed infrastructure services contracts in Q4, including a number of seven-year BPO contracts with financial institutions. However it looks as though Unisys is having difficulty replicating it success in the US elsewhere, as CEO Weinbach commented that gains in US orders were offset by "substantial declines" in international orders.

As I mentioned in this Weblog at Xmas, Unisys has made no secret about its ambitions to build up its UK BPO business, so I'll wait for news of this with some interest.


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