Hardware Today: Unisys Server Snapshot

By Ben Freeman (Send Email)
Posted Sep 13, 2004


The nav bar on Unisys' Web site spells out the company's priorities and strengths in order alone, "Unisys: Consulting, Systems Integration, Outsourcing, Infrastructure, Server Technology." The last but not least positioning of "Server technology" is appropriate — equipment sales account for the smallest slice of Unisys' revenue pie. In the second quarter of 2004, for example, enterprise-class server sales accounted for $185.5 million — a mere 13.4 percent of the $1.39 billion in total revenue the vendor pulled in. Services, in contrast, brought in $1.16 billion, or 83.5 percent.

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Although Unisys is one of the longest-standing players in the server market, its hardware revenue has largely given way to that of services. We examine the vendor's latest server changes and consider its place in the server market as a whole.

This trend toward services results in Unisys' servers not getting as much exposure as those of competitors, which results in a further dwindling percentage of server sales and revenue. But sales revenue isn't the whole picture. While Unisys consistently resides in the "Other" category in the quarterly server sales comparison surveys, it's important to bear in mind that equipment sales are not its only line of business.

This week, Hardware Today explores the server arsenal behind Unisys' services. Since our last Unisys server snapshot, the vendor has diversified its high-end offerings, added support for Red Hat Linux, extended its Itanium-2 support, and added more robust J2EE-geared mainframes.

New Additions

The 24- to 32-way Aries 440 raises the line to 32-way Itanium heights, while its kid brother, the 4- to 8-way Aries 405, lowers the Itanium-2 entry point to 4-way altitudes.

"We're moving in both directions — moving up and moving into the more entry level space, but staying in the Xeon MP boundaries, " Unisys Vice President for Platform Marketing, Systems & Technology Mark Feverston told ServerWatch.

On the Intel side, Unisys expanded on both the low end and the high end with a pair of Itanium-2 servers. The 24- to 32-way Aries 440 raises the line to 32-way Itanium heights, while its kid brother, the 4- to 8-way Aries 405, lowers the Itanium-2 entry point to 4-way altitudes.

Feverston noted that lower-end additions like the 4-way Aries 405 aren't meant to stand alone. "The ES7000 product family is modular, a pay as you grow kind of environment," he said, "So today if you buy a 4-way from us, you can turn that into an 8-way [and go] all the way to a 32-way."

On March 29, Unisys unveiled the Libra 500 series of ClearPath mainframes. The servers follow an automatically expandable pay-for-use model and offer open source J2EE Java mainframe support. It also wed JBoss support to Unisys' proprietary developer tool, the Enterprise Application Environment. The Libra 500 series features three models: the Libra 520, 580, and 590, each of which roughly corresponds to older Libra 100 models. Each of the three models couple four to 28 proprietary Unisys MCP CMOS processors with four to 56 Intel Xeon MP processors. The servers are priced from $300,000 to $18 million.

Exactly one month after introducing the Libra 500 series, Unisys released a version of its 32-way Xeon MP ES7000 Orion 540 with improved self-healing diagnostic Sentinel management capabilities. Then, on August 2, Unisys announced support for Red Hat Linux AS across its ES7000 server line.

The following chart shows Unisys' server offerings at a glance. As usual, new additions are noted in bold; newly retired servers appear in italics.

Unisys Servers at a Glance
Server Family
Target Deployment
Processor Types
Processor Range
Operating Systems
Servers
ES7000
(Aries)
Highly scalable, high-performance Wintel servers aimed at a typically Unix/mainframe occupied range; 64-bit options (400 series) available Xeon, Itanium-2 4 to 16 (Xeon)
4 to 32 (Itanium-2)
Windows 200x AS, SUSE Linux, Red Hat Linux 405,
410,
420,
430,
440,
510,
520
ES7000
(Orion)
Similar to ES7000 Aries with an eye on the data center and higher-end computing needs; mainly 32-bit options Xeon MP
Pentium III
8-32 (Xeon and Xeon MP)
560 allows Itanium-2 and Pentium III blades up 106 processors
Windows 200x AS, SUSE Linux, Red Hat Linux 530,
540,
550,
560
ES3000 Mid-Range Servers Less extensive, low-end line designed for "one stop" clients looking to augment their ES7000 or Clearpath solutions Xeon MP
Pentium III
1 to 4 (Xeon and Xeon MP)
1 (Pentium III)
Windows 200x ES3005 Blade,
ES3020,
ES3020L,
ES3040,
ES3040L
Clearpath
(OS2200)
High-end mainframes running OS2200, a proprietary operating system whose cellular multiprocessing allows integration of Intel-based processors and operating systems
(Although it continues to be updated, Gartner — and market trends — advise new customers to shop the ES7000 line.)
Proprietary Instruction Processors 1 to 32 (Instruction Processors)
1 to 24 (Intel)
OS 2200, with Windows AS, SUSE, UnixWare Dorado
110,
140,
180

Other
IX6620
Clearpath
(MCP)
High-end mainframes running MCP, proprietary operating system with CMP for Intel integration. Also features virtualization software to intermix Windows and mainframe workloads. Still updated; see Clearpath (OS2200). Proprietary CMOS processors,additional onboard Intel CPUs 1 to 32 (CMOS)
1 to 24 (Intel)
MCP, MCPvm, Windows 200x AS/DC, Unixware, SUSE Libra
Libra 180,
Libra 185,
Libra 520,
Libra 580,
Libra 590
LX
LX140 Laptop,
LX6000,
LX7100
Other
CS7201,
NX6820,
NX6830

>> Red Hat Linux and Intel Itanium

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