Skip to main content
Box Clever or Boxed In

When, at the end of January I predicted the appearance of a new Unisys ES7000 Server, I nicknamed ‘Fatbird’, I didn’t quite expect the company to plan a raid on the mid-range Server market to coincide with the arrival of Windows 2003.

I’m reminded that it’s almost exactly two years since I attended an analyst briefing at the Unisys ‘ASP 2000’ centre of excellence in Paris. It strikes me that at the time, the world was a rather different place, as the ES7000 was very much pitched towards what many of us believed might be the next ‘big thing’, the expanding ASP sector, which Unisys viewed as a natural home for its ‘Big Iron’ Windows Mainframe Servers.

The Uxbridge Patient

I’m sure that Unisys would rather forget about those days in Paris and at the time, the Meta Group’s cynicism over the company’s datacentre strategy. Today, the ASP 2000 Centre no longer exists and neither do most of the first-to-market ASPs, who saw there future disappear down a very expensive blind alley. Unisys has however persevered with its longer-term Windows Mainframe plan. Although the company appears, to me at least, to be rather more successful in shifting managed services than its highly specialised and expensive iron, it’s well placed to take advantage of the promised power to weight ration of Windows Server 2003, now adding the middleweight, ‘Aries’ and the larger ‘Orion’, modular, 4-to-32 processor systems; 'best with' Windows Server 2003 when it appears.

Unisys, unlike its more eclectic rivals, is more sensitive to ‘Penguin Creep’ in the midrange Server market, from different flavours of UNIX. Unlike Hewlett Packard and IBM, Unisys is entirely wedded to the future of Windows in the datacentre and the company, with its new spring Server collection, is now deploying variants of its powerful Cellular Multiprocessing (CMP) server technology, intent on capturing mid-range market-share with its expandable Windows Mainframes.

Not everyone is convinced by the news of the second coming, of Windows Server 2003. The Meta Group returns, once again to cast a shadow over Unisys’ bubbling enthusiasm for Windows. Rakesh Kumar is quoted as saying that Windows 2003 has no chance of squeezing UNIX out of the datacentre, commenting: "The lack of dynamic partitioning and virtualisation technology in Windows 2003 is a significant handicap." Even the Butler Group aren’t really convinced, with one analyst announcing “Windows 2003 does not start to catch up with Unix in terms of availability and manageability”, describing its failover clustering as more “junior” than UNIX. The most damming statement of all describing, HP-UX and Solaris systems as having made more progress than Windows 2003 in terms of being able to reconfigure servers without rebooting.

So where does this leave Windows Server 2003 on a ‘Big Iron’ platform. With the product still not available, all we have to go on are the analysts’ opinions, which suggest a confidence gap between what it promises and what it can actually offer in terms of TCO, scalability, reliability and raw processing power.

This leaves me with a sense of ‘Déjà vu’. It’s 2003 and Windows still appears to be struggling to match UNIX if you believe the analysts. This is a serious business for both Unisys and Microsoft, tied firmly to each other in a marriage of convenience in the face of intense competition in a market segment where both companies have still to establish a truly exploitable beachhead.

What evidence, I wonder, will encourage businesses to reject ‘Old Reliable’ UNIX to flirt with Unisys and its new big iron Servers on Windows 2003?

Will Windows ever find broad acceptance as true alternative to UNIX or will UNIX, which still refuses to die quietly, ultimately have the last laugh in the datacentre?

Comments

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 Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…