Bull XS, jointly owned by Bull HN and Bull SA, last week hosted a Parisian event to highlight what it describes as Bull’s worldwide Unix strategy and commitment to Open Systems. However, few things are quite what they seem, and the DPX/2 product line is an exception to worldwide conformity. The range was announced in […]
Bull XS, jointly owned by Bull HN and Bull SA, last week hosted a Parisian event to highlight what it describes as Bull’s worldwide Unix strategy and commitment to Open Systems. However, few things are quite what they seem, and the DPX/2 product line is an exception to worldwide conformity. The range was announced in October (CI No 1,287), and is being shipped in the US and continental Europe, but not yet in the UK. The Motorola 68030-based DPX/2 200 will be here in February, as will the high-end DPX/2 340 machine, but the Intel 80386-based 100 family won’t be available until May 1990. Bull HN has sold some 26 DPX/2 systems to software partners, but users aren’t supposed to know about them until next year. The company says that UK market conditions dictate short delivery times, and it doesn’t believe in getting users over-excited by pre-announcing products before it can deliver the goods. So, if UK users want to know more about the DPX/2 family, they shouldn’t bother contacting Bull HN, but the more forthcoming Bull Italia, Bull SA, or Bull SX. Enough of the DPX/2, it’s embargoed in the UK. On more general matters, how does Bull feel about being under the IBM umbrella, and what does it think of its Open Software Foundation partner? It depends on the Bull really. The Brits deny the former and stonewall on the latter, but Armand Malka, marketing and planning director for Bull XS, says that not a day goes by but he prays for an IBM announcement. He may not have to pray quite so hard after the New Year since IBM has scheduled a January announcement in Paris and booked enough space for 5,000. But can IBM be trusted as a Unix partner, and is Bull not tarred by the ambiguous statements and delays? Malka couldn’t say if the delays were due to technical hitches or the finer points of strategic marketing. That prompts the question of how users are supposed to know and have confidence in both in AIX, and Open Systems.
Bull’s Unix systems are to be targeted at commercial markets, but IBM and DEC have always favoured technical and scientific applications. Some sceptics have gone one step further and suggested that IBM’s commitment to Unix is determined only by the scale of US government contracts that specify Unix, so where is the community of interests? Bull’s British contingent insists that IBM would be missing a marvellous opportunity if it didn’t enter the market and take on the established Unix players. However, Malka adopted a more pragmatic tone. The amount of risk and revenue involved is not so large that Unix is critical to IBM, but the knock-on effect of an unambiguous commitment would be a significant boost to partners and users. On non-IBM issues, various Bulls agreed that soon-to-be-acquired Zenith’s Data Systems will help open up the US market for the French state-owned company. Malka acknowledged that Zenith’s 80386 multi-processor with Corollary extensions to Unix from the Santa Cruz Operation, does seem out of sync with Bull’s existing products, but it does form a US platform. He enthused over a 80486 version being developed under Interactive Systems’ Unix, which is also the operating system for Bull’s personal computers. Bull’s agreement with MIPS Computer Systems to integrate RISC technology should bear fruit by the second half of 1990, in the form of a high-end server. Malka says that this won’t increase the number of users supported, but it will provide up to 60 MIPS for more demanding applications. – Janice McGinn