Unisys couldn’t manage it, but Nixdorf Computer, which is now claiming the title of number one systems integrator in the West German market, says it will: the successful replacement of Hamburg Military University’s mainframe-based computing facilities with a completely integrated Unix system. Until the change-over, which took place over the last two weeks of July […]
Unisys couldn’t manage it, but Nixdorf Computer, which is now claiming the title of number one systems integrator in the West German market, says it will: the successful replacement of Hamburg Military University’s mainframe-based computing facilities with a completely integrated Unix system. Until the change-over, which took place over the last two weeks of July this year, the university’s computing centre used a Unisys 1100/82 mainframe: now, three Targon machines from Nixdorf have taken its place, Computerwoche reports. The new system is based around servers linked through an Ethernet local area network; another 150 machines, including 70 Nokia monitors, 50 Wyse systems, 15 Tektronix graphic machines and 10 existing machines are also connected. Around 40 end-user personal computers are linked via modems, data is transferred along a telephone line, with two Racal-Milgo Omnimux 2000 systems linked to a further 100 machines. As for the servers, there are three Targon/35 systems, each with three processors, and a Convex 2200 with two. Two of the Targons have a 48Mb memory, the other has 64Mb; the Convex goes up to 128Mb – end-users can choose which server they want to work from. All the equipment mentioned above and the Computer Aided Design and graphic workstations, Sun computer and a few AT-alikes communicate using the TCP/IP protocol. The Convex system, installed for Finite Element applications, runs on Berkeley BSD 4.3 Unix, with Nixdorf’s own TOS 3 Unix sytem – compatible with both System V and Berkeley Unix – on the Targons. The X Window System is planned for the central system interface, with either Motif or Open Look on top of that. At present the standard Unix interface is used, along with a Full Screen Editor for the applications developer. Gert Malinka, systems controller at the university, explains the reasons for the conversion: For some time the mainframe architecture and applications had been proving insufficient for our requirements, especially when it came to scientific uses. What’s more, after eight years of use the system was beginning to show its age, and the original user contract with Unisys had expired, thus leaving the data processing department free to recast completely its system strategy: In the end we decided on an open system and server architecture through which computers in the network could simultaneously process commands, continues Malinka. Above all, it was required that all the servers should be installed in the same room, mirroring the mainframe concept, so that servicing and operation could be centralised. A network consisting of several servers should, it is hoped, increase the system’s resilience and bring down costs, with specialised commands no longer going through a central processor not fully equipped to deal with them, and instead being handled by a smaller, more specialised machine, which can be replaced or enhanced at will. During the two weeks of the change-over, the entire system was shut down; since then, important areas such as the cataloguing and loaning index of the library have been restarted, but Malinka thinks it will be another year before the whole system is functioning properly, with the whole project set to take three years.
Investment for the future
Accordingly, a co-operation agreement has been drawn up with Nixdorf which will have two of the Paderborner’s specialists collaborating with two from the university on the development of tools for the system. We see the six man-years we’re putting into the project as an investment for the future, helping us to become the most in-demand specialists within the system integration and standards-based computer centre sector, states Bernd Kosch, formerly with IBM, now market research and development director at Nixdorf. He sees university computer centres, with their receptiveness to innovation and experiment, as terrain on which valuable experience can be gained. He regards this conversion as a pilot project – to do the same thing in a commercial environment will be a lot harder. Meanwhile, Unisys – which pulled
out of bidding for the the Hamburg project because of certain stipulations in the contract that went against its migrate over to Unix systems gradually has a period of respite at another Military College, the one down in Munich, which has Burroughs mainframes. Conversion has been discussed, but there will be no change in the short term the leasing agreement does not expire until April 1992.