Unisys Server Buyer's Guide

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Jul 10, 2011


It's been more than two years since we covered Unisys in detail in ServerWatch. So it's about time we gave some coverage to the Blue Bell, Penn. provider of high-end x86 servers and mainframes.

Unisys ES Series Enterprise Servers

If you ruled out Unisys because you think it sells just old school mainframes, it's time to give this server provider another look. The OEM's high-end x86 servers and mainframes take full advantage of its years of experience in implementing enterprise-class solutions.

ES Series Enterprise Servers can be characterized as commodity systems backed up with Unisys' expertise in implementing enterprise-class solutions. The portfolio includes ES7000 scalable servers, ES5000 blade servers and ES3000 rack servers. These platforms leverage Intel Xeon processors, Windows and Linux operating systems, and virtualization technologies, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Xen.

"Unisys is committed to quickly leveraging the latest advances in Intel processor technology to benefit our clients," said Rod Sapp, vice president, Servers and Storage, Unisys. "We aim to continually expand the server power enterprises need to handle cloud computing, consolidation, virtualization and other new-generation mission-critical challenges, as well as longtime data center requirements such as online transaction processing and business intelligence."

The Unisys ES7000 Model 7600R G3 Enterprise Server is aimed at Online Transactional Processing (OLTP), database and virtualization environments. It uses 10-core Intel Xeon E7 series processors in an 8-socket server. It can scale from 2 to 4 to 8 sockets as needed. Other specs include up to 4 TB of memory and up to 14 PCI-Express slots.

The ES5000 blade server uses Xeon 5600 series processors, up to 96 GB of memory within a 9U enclosure.

The ES3000 family of midrange servers consists of:

  • The ES3000 Model 3590R is a 4-socket, 4U server powered by 8-core Xeons.
  • The ES3000 Model 3560T has up to two Xeon processors. This expandable 5U server comes in both rack and tower form factors and is aimed at application environments configured with large quantities of disk and memory.
  • The ES3000 Model 3560R is a 2-socket, 2U Xeon rack server suited to database, email, network infrastructure and application virtualization.
  • The ES3000 Model 3530R is the 1U version, which tries to balance the needs of performance, availability, energy efficiency and space constraints. It comes with two Xeon processors, redundant power and integrated RAID 5 storage options.

ClearPath Mainframes

Previously, Unisys ClearPath systems exclusively used a traditional CMOS proprietary-processor-based architecture. Now, the company is transitioning to an Intel x86 architecture to address entry through midrange requirements.

"This allows our mainframes to take advantage of Intel's investments in processor technology, while directing investments toward capabilities required to support scalable, mission-critical applications," said Bill Maclean, vice president, ClearPath Portfolio Management at Unisys. "This assures cost-effective transaction-processing power and flexibility, enabling clients to protect their long-term application investments."

While the biggest mainframes continue to use CMOS, they, too, will gradually be replaced by Intel processors.

"We believe ClearPath is the most modern, secure, open mainframe platform on the market," said Maclean.

ClearPath mainframes handle demanding workloads. Common security breaches are avoided via the native system architecture. These systems provide significant vertical scalability, supporting mixed workloads consisting of hundreds of applications, processing high volume transactions and requirements under a single operating system. A Pay-for-Use business model based on metering technology means you pay for the resources you use. By the same token, extra processing is available instantly. Specialty engines for ClearPath mainframes are available in such areas as Java, Message Queuing, Cryptography, web/web services and smartphone integration.

As mentioned, a couple of flavors of ClearPath are available -- Libra and Dorado, which each have their respective operating environments: ClearPath MCP for Libra and OS 2200 for the Dorado platform.

There are a series of Libra models available.

ClearPath Libra 880/890 systems are high-end CMOS mainframes known for high-volume transaction processing. Featuring dual-core processor technology, the Libra 880 and 890 mainframes offer a 10 percent increase in processor performance and improvements in I/O performance of up to 15 percent over previous Unisys high-end models. Included as a native element are two Specialty Engines, a ClearPath MCP JProcessor and a ClearPath ePortal Business for MCP. Specialty Engines extend specific functions to the ClearPath Server by using an integrated processing unit for the specific task. The ClearPath MCP JProcessor provides a secure Java application environment while the ePortal for MCP extends MCP applications to Web browsers, mobile devices and Web Services.

The ClearPath Libra 750 Server provides a midrange proprietary Unisys CMOS platform that can run hundreds of workloads and databases under a single instance of the ClearPath MCP operating system. This redundant dual-cell platform can operate as two independent partitions -- each with its own processors, memory and I/O.

The ClearPath Libra 4180/4190 family of servers runs the Unisys MCP operating system on Intel Xeon processors. The Libra 4100 Series servers deliver mainframe-class capabilities, which include high levels of security, availability, reliability and performance. There are two models. The Libra 4180 systems provide traditional business pricing models with Capacity on Demand options. The Libra 4190 systems provide Pay-for-Use business models based. They feature Secure Partitioning (s-Par) and a new MCP IO architecture that supports plug-and-play, allowing users to add new channels, tapes and disk to the MCP without a halt/load.

The ClearPath Libra 450 Server is an open mainframe system with entry-level quad-core Intel Xeon processors running MCP and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

ClearPath Dorado mainframes, on the other hand, are OS 2200-based systems and host a range of vertical market solutions. There are four main models: the 860, 870, 880 and 890. These would all be classed as high-end mainframes. Specialty engines are also available. The ClearPath ePortal for OS 2200, for example, extends OS 2200 applications to Web browsers, Web Services and mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. In addition, there is an optional ClearPath OS 2200 Qprocessor that runs IBM WebSphere MQ and works together with the OS 2200 operating environment to provide the message queuing run-time environment for messaging applications.

Unisys has also ported its Dorados from CMOS to Intel processors. The ClearPath Dorado 4180/4190 servers run the Unisys OS 2200 operating system on Xeon chips.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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