Faced with the withering of its traditional IBM Corp plug-compatible mainframe business, Amdahl Corp is making it clear that it doesn’t intend simply to sit back and suffer the same fate as the mainframe. Instead, it has embarked on one of the most comprehensive reconstructions in the history of the computer industry, building on its […]
Faced with the withering of its traditional IBM Corp plug-compatible mainframe business, Amdahl Corp is making it clear that it doesn’t intend simply to sit back and suffer the same fate as the mainframe. Instead, it has embarked on one of the most comprehensive reconstructions in the history of the computer industry, building on its expertise in all things mainframe to create a whole string of new products that while appropriate to mainframe users, promise to have a continuing life long after the traditional mainframe is dead and buried. And the company is confident that its new strategy will restore its fortunes in a remarkably short time: it hasn’t achieved a profit since the fourth quarter of 1992, but it will be in the black this year, chairman and chief executive Joseph Zemke believes. He points out that the mainframe market is still quite big enough to fill the gap while it builds its new business, since it is still an $8,000m to $1,000m a year industry. The mainframe over time will decline, he says, but it will be much slower than the wisdom on the Street indicates. Amdahl has cut costs out of its mainframe business and has reduced research and development spending to 13% of sales from 17%. We ought to be between 10% and 13%, he says, the gap being filled by collaboration and by buying in products.
Amdahl shows no compunction about breaking with the past as it goes massively parallel for the database server
Amdahl cheerfully confesses that it announced its agreement with nCube Inc, Foster City, California, Oracle Corp, Redwood Shores, and Information Builders Inc, New York to pre-empt IBM Corp’s announcement this week – and once again, the problem IBM faces in rebuilding its business is underscored. IBM feels the need to cling to its past by making the building blocks for its query processor 9370 microprocessors: Amdahl could have done the same by getting similar parts from 44% shareholder Fujitsu Ltd – but is the full 370 architecture, harking as it does straight back to 1984 – really the most appropriate for systems intended to rake it into the twenty-first century? Amdahl feels no such sentimental attachment and has gone for the nCube machine that today can take up to 8,192 processors, tomorrow even more – and the parallel version of Oracle7 designed to run on such machines. The company hopes to be able to show off a finished product within the next quarter. Amdahl is certain that it has taken the right tack, saying We have a competitor who is going to announce a product that is similar although focuses on a much narrower segment of the market than this product is focused on. Amdahl expects to release its first major upgrade before the end of the year. I’d expect that you’d see by the end of 1995 that the full set of capabilities required for an enterprise data server would be in place and running within customer organisations, the company says, once again highlighting the flaw in the IBM case: yes, users are going to need giant central data repositories for the foreseeable future. Do those repositories need to be – indeed is it even appropriate that they should be – derivatives of MVS mainframes? Amdahl clearly believes not. Amdahl says its long-term vision is that the next product will support existing mainframe applications, applications from other mainframes, and open support and transaction support from desktops in a local network environment. Effectively what we hope to build here is a data server that is surrounded by a number of application servers, whether those applications servers are System 390 or Unix workstations from a plethora of vendors. Our customers are seeking faster, more economical approaches to accessing and analysing huge volumes of data on large-scale systems and for building new data warehouses for specialised applications. This alliance will provide best-of-breed products that support these requirements, said Zemke. Information Builders, with its EDA/SQL, reckons that it is the software leader in delivering interconnection between client-server and multi-environment,
multi-tier computing complexes. Amdahl will integrate, market, install and support the products under the alliance.
Encore storage subsystem to marry mainframe, open systems world
Rather lost in the smoke and gunfire of the parallel server announcement, Amdahl has at the same time moved to leap beyond the restrictions of conventional IBM mainframe disk subsystem architecture by bringing in another partner, Encore Computer Corp, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a view to building storage subsystems that dedicate a whole Encore Infinity 90 system Encore likes to call its machines alternative mainframes – to the task of managing data on the disks and delivering it to the processors. The new Storage Systems Products target a worldwide storage market valued at over $13,000m, and the two plan to begin shipping in the third quarter. Once again, Amdahl is looking beyond the mainframe, pitching the disk subsystems equally at the IBM-compatible and open systems markets, and claiming superior price-performance to what has gone before. The agreement calls for Encore to develop and manufacture specific storage systems products for Amdahl’s marketing and sales distribution, providing scalable 390-compatible storage using high performance core technologies from its Infinity 90 Unix product architecture. The Infinity SP products are designed to use 3.5 disk drives in high-availability and fault-tolerant designs using various levels of RAID implementations, in capacities from 100GB to multiple Terabytes. The aim is that the new devices should be used as direct attached storage devices for IBM-compatible mainframes, concurrently providing shared storage facilities to open systems environments.
Racal Guardata helps out with mainframe security
In yet another alliance, Amdahl has gone to the Racal Guardata subsidiary of Racal Electronics Plc to provide enhanced data security for its mainframe customers. The Racal-Guardata product line provides data encryption, key management, user authentication, and message authentication functions to meet the security requirements of the most demanding commercial enterprises worldwide, including banking and financial institutions. The Racal-Guardata products attach to the 5995M Series processors and other Amdahl processors, but the company did not give any indication of prices for them.