ICL Plc executives have been on tour in the US seeking partners to bring its computer systems – as opposed to retail offerings – to market there, when the question is is very often, IC who? Integrator Electronic Data Systems Corp has already added the UK firm to its equipment list, and a couple of […]
ICL Plc executives have been on tour in the US seeking partners to bring its computer systems – as opposed to retail offerings – to market there, when the question is is very often, IC who? Integrator Electronic Data Systems Corp has already added the UK firm to its equipment list, and a couple of weeks ago ICL teamed with parent Fujitsu Ltd and cousin HaL Computer Systems Ltd on a stand at UniForum to tout its new TeamServers, SuperServers and Goldrush massively parallel technology. Further couplings are expected to result. Meanwhile, the latest agreement ICL has signed with Pyramid Technology Corp – and the two have been extending their original agreement in leaps since ICL’s corporate technology people and the Pyramid team found they were talking the same language – is expected to come to fruition by the end of the year. The idea is to develop software that will enable ICL’s massively parallel Goldrush and Pyramid’s Nile servers linked together to be viewed and operated as a single system. Because it has been put together with off-the-shelf parts, ICL says that it will not have to sell too many of its parallel machines, which are due in August, to re-coup a research and development investment of several million pounds to bring the thing to market.
Beaten-up by newcomers
The massively parallel implementation is hard to do, it admits, and it believes that it will appeal only to a fairly limited set of customers at the high end of the market. High-street banks, building societies and the like are looking, ICL believes, to consolidate disparate information systems they have typically built up over years to address the de-regulated market opportunities that spawned mortgage, life assurance, pension and share dealing services from basic chequeing or savings accounts. In the UK, ICL says, some long-established high-street financial organisations are getting beaten up by newcomers such as the Midland Bank Plc’s FirstDirect, which has all of a customers’ details on hand and accessible at one place from one integrated system, from where one operator can process all of a customers’ requests. A typical bank or building society will have financial records for each of its services stored in a variety of systems which cannot usually be accessed from one point in the system. (How many times have you heard I can’t tell you that, you’ll have to speak to another department?) Some, ICL believes, will want to consolidate everything in a large DB2 systems, but others have grasped the open systems message and want to have a large Unix relational database – and the Sequent Computer Systems Incs and Hewlett-Packard Cos cannot offer symmetric multiprocessors big enough for the job yet, it believes. That is where Goldrush, seen as database engine driver, is positioned, with Pyramid symmetric multiprocessing systems running the applications. Indeed, massively parallel systems and software seemed to set whatever product tone there was at UniForum a couple of weeks ago, where IBM Corp was touting its second generation PowerParallels and Oracle Corp and Sybase Inc were making much of their parallel databases. Subsequent Amdahl Corp, NCube Corp, Sequent and Kendall Square Research Inc activity has only added to the flurry of debate.