Hardware Today: Unisys Server Snapshot

by Drew Robb

Last week, Unisys unveiled its Real Time Capacity server series. What has else has the vendor been up to since its last Server Snapshot?

It hadn't exactly been a watershed year for Unisys in terms of new server releases and announcements — a few enhancements to its ES7000 server line, a couple of processor updates, better management capabilities, and the forging of a stronger line with Red Hat. Then, last week, Unisys announced its Real Time Capacity (RTC) server series.

The idea behind ES7000 RTC is four-fold: remove the risk of running out of capacity, give organizations the ability to maintain high utilization rates, eliminate the financial risk of overspending on capital equipment that is never used, and reduce up-front acquisition costs. Unlike other on-demand Unix-based offerings, Unisys is the first to make Intel-based Windows and Linux servers available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Recent Server Snapshots
HPC Market

"Unfortunately, today's IT complexity has often stolen control of the infrastructure away from the CIO," says Leo Daiuto, president of systems and technology at Unisys Corp. "For CIOs and IT managers, it's all about having a set of shared computing resources that are tuned and sized dynamically and automatically based on business-driven demands."

Unisys research reveals that most enterprises are using only 15 to 20 percent of their server infrastructure. According to Jack Heine of Gartner, by 2007 organizations with more than 200 servers will annually waste between $500,000 and $720,000 supporting underutilized application-server combinations. One way to reduce this baseline cost is to eliminate poorly utilized hardware and software associated with older, seldom-used applications. Gartner estimates this practice can reduce IT budgets as much as 20 percent.

Many organizations have chosen the server consolidation route to lessen this problem. Indeed, that was one of the driving forces in the ES7000's creation. Unisys pushed its flagship server as a means of taking many small Windows boxes and loading them all onto one large ES7000 data center server to improve utilization rates and overall manageability. That approach may work well for some, but it isn't universally workable.

"Not everyone can do a consolidation," says Mark Feverston, vice president of enterprise server marketing at Unisys. "Some find it too hard to get there due to current workloads or their existing application mix. Other just don't have the time."

Unisys' solution is to allow clients to purchase the capacity they need, adding more as time goes on. Instead of following the standard model of buying a great deal more capacity and waiting several years before it is used, enterprises buy a large box now and pay only for what is used.

Unlike other on-demand Unix-based offerings, Unisys is the first to make Intel-based Windows and Linux servers available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Feverston says the service is available for Xeon- and Itanium-based servers running Windows or Linux. When you buy the server, anywhere from 33 percent to 100 percent additional capacity is available. The additional capacity is turned on in single-processor increments, either on a short-term or permanent basis. If the new arrangement exceeds current licensing parameters, Unisys takes care of the administration and sends the customer the required licenses.

"The IT manager turns on more capacity by clicking to an icon on the console, identifying the specific server, indicating how much, and for how long," says Feverston. "Within 15 minutes, he has a key to unlock the desired capacity without having to deal with any sales people, technicians, or having to open up the server box itself."

Another aspect of the on-demand service is that no premium is paid for adding potential capacity on the floor. If it isn't used, the customer pays solely for the configuration that is. Further, to prevent an enterprise from getting sucked into paying so much for temporary capacity that it ends up paying more than the full capacity is worth, Unisys set up the program so that the fourth time temporary processors are used, they become permanent. It belongs to the enterprise without further payment. Customers can also set ceilings on the number of consecutive temporary days that can be used.

"Competitive offerings from IBM, HP, and Sun often make the on-demand process time-consuming and laborious," says Feverston. "There is typically a lengthy contractual process or you have to deal with sales staff or technicians to set it up for you."

Feverston sees two types of candidates for these on-demand capabilities: those that experience seasonal spikes, such as retail firms (e.g., Mother's Day and Christmas) or educational institutions (e.g., the start of the semester); and those with a project basis, such as a new SAP or Siebel implementation. In the latter case, the company might be rolling out the application organically. One department gets the system; then, six months later another joins in, and so on. They don't require all the capacity upfront but will in the long run. With Unisys' on-demand option, they can have it ready without having to pay the full price now or adding more servers later.

>> Unisys at a Glance

The table below provides a high-level overview of Unisys' server lines and products.

Unisys' Servers, at a Glance

Server Family
Target Deployment
Processor Types
Processor Range
Operating Systems
ES7000 (Aries)Intel-based servers that deliver greater scalability and performance than standard commodity servers; typically targeted at clients that have reached the limits of commodity servers or anticipate those application or database servers reaching a limit Xeon MP and Itanium 24 to 16 (Xeon); 4 to 16 (Itanium-2) Windows 2000 AS/DCS, Windows 2003 EE/DCE, SUSE Linux, and Red Hat Linux 405,
400 series starts at $39,500; 500 series starts at $33,750
ES7000 (Orion)Like the ES7000 Aries line, ES7000 Orion servers have an eye on higher-end computing needs typically associated with proprietary, high-end, RISC/Unix-class systems; positioned for companies looking to standardize on Intel throughout the data center and require the highest levels of scalability, performance, and availability. Xeon MP and Itanium 216 to 64 (Itanium and Xeon MP); the 460 includes up to 32 Xeon MP and 16 Itanium 2 processors, for a total of 48 processors; the 560 includes up to 32 Xeon MP and 32 Itanium 2 processors, for a total of 64 processors Windows 200x AS, SUSE Linux, and Red Hat Linux430,
400 series starts at $219,000; 500 series starts at $105,600
ES3000 Midrange Servers Less extensive, low-end to midrange line designed for "one stop" clients looking to augment their ES7000 or ClearPath solutionsXeon MP1 to 4 (Xeon DP and Xeon MP)Windows 200x, SUSE Linux Version 9, and Red Hat Linux 33120,
3120L ,
ES3120 and ES3120L ranges from $2,779 to $44,579; ES3140 and ES3140L ranges from $5,600 to $72,320
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 advises new customers to shop the ES7000 line, instead and market trends support this)Proprietary Instruction Processors1 to 32 (Instruction Processors); 1 to 24 (Intel)OS 2200, with Windows AS, SUSE, and UnixWareDorado 110,
Contact the sales department
Clearpath (MCP)Entry, midrange, and high-end mainframes running MCP (a proprietary operating system) on CMOS processors, and MCPvm on Intel processors; plug-and-play modules enable multiple operating systems to run on a single platform; Libra Model 590 features metering and pay-for-use; still being updated.Proprietary CMOS processors and Intel processors1 to 32 (CMOS); 1 to 56 (Intel) MCP, MCPvm, Windows 200x AS/DC, SUSE Linux, and Red Hat LinuxLibra 520,
Libra 580,
Libra 590,
LX140 Laptop
Libra series starts at $250,000; LX series starts at $3,000

ES7000 Innovation

While RTC is the latest news, the ES7000 line has been upgraded since the previous Unisys Server Snapshot. The company introduced three new ES7000 servers in early 2005 that feature the latest Intel Itanium 2 processor. They have double the processing capacity and memory previously available in Itanium-2-based Unisys ES7000 servers. The line now includes 4-, 8-, 16-, and 32-processor models. All are available for use with Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

The ES7000/460, for example, supports both the Itanium 2 processor and the Intel Xeon processor MP in the same rack-mounted unit. It includes up to 32 Xeon MP and 16 Itanium-2 processors, for a total of 48 processors. The server runs 32-bit and 64-bit applications. It is designed for multi-tier applications, such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Siebel, where 32-bit applications and 64-bit databases can be managed together.

This latest strain of ES7000 servers also includes Sentinel management software enhancements and migration tools. Sentinel permits customers to manage and consolidate multiple applications, including SQL and Oracle databases. Application Sentinel for SQL Server 2.0, for example, provides real diagnostic and optimization capabilities geared to improving throughput up to 40 percent, while reducing response time by 20 percent and processor utilization by 25 percent.

With Unisys RTC offerings, Sentinel transmits automatic alerts when extra capacity is needed. It facilitates the adding of that capacity within about 15 minutes.

Red Hats Off

The final significant shift in the Unisys line up is the addition of Red Hat Linux to its repertoire. The ES7000 server line is fully certified for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4). Unisys customers can now purchase RHEL 4 with any ES7000, from 4 to 32 processors, running in both 32-bit and 64-bit environments.

In recent years, Unisys weaned the ES7000 off Windows-only software by adding Linux into the equation. Why?

"For CIOs, the challenge is to standardize their data center environments in the most cost-effective way possible," says Daiuto. "A growing number of organizations seek to migrate their operations from expensive, proprietary Unix/RISC-based systems onto standardized Linux platforms."

This article was originally published on Monday Jun 13th 2005
Mobile Site | Full Site