Unisys Corp yesterday rounded out its annual Clearpath mainframe announcements by delivering faster CMOS mainframe engines on its Sperry “Dorado” OS2200 mainframes as it did in March with its Burroughs “Libra” MCP mainframes. In addition, Unisys also announced that it is supporting its own variant of Sun Microsystems’ Java Virtual Machine inside OS2200 and MCP and the open source JBoss Web application server natively on the OS2200 and MCP platforms and their respective CMOS mainframe engines.
The plans for the support of Java and JBoss were announced with an upgrade to the Libra mainframe line in March, when Unisys significantly boosted the performance of the Libra engines and cut the price per MIPS for the machines by about 10%. The top-end Libra 580 machine announced six months ago spanned to a maximum of 32 CMOS processors and delivered more than 8,400 aggregate MIPS of processing power. Also back in March, Unisys delivered a Libra 590 machine that was available on a pay-per-use basis only, and customers were able to buy computing power in 25 MIPS increments. With this set of announcements, the pay-per-use model has been extended to the Dorado machines, and the increment size has been shrunk on both Clearpath mainframe types down to 10 MIPS.
The latest Clearpath Dorado announcements, says Chander Khanna, vice president of platform marketing at Unisys, echo what the company did in March in the Libra line. Specifically, Unisys has launched a 32-way OS2200 box, called the Dorado 280, which has 50% more aggregate computing power that the Dorado 180 that it replaces and yields the same 8,400 MIPS of aggregate processing power that the Libra 580 does. (Hmm. Makes you wonder. . .) The Dorado frames were designed to support the P4 and P5 generation of Unisys CMOS mainframe chips (not to be confused with and in no way related to the IBM Corp Power4 and Power5 RISC processors), and Khanna says that the speed bump with the Dorado 280 machine is entirely due to the increase in cycle time on the CMOS P5 processors. The Dorado 280 can support two OS2200 domains.
In addition to boosting the performance of a single Dorado system, Unisys is also announcing a database clustering technology called XPC that allows up to 128 Dorado processors to be clustered (that’s four fully loaded 32-way mainframes) into a single image for transaction processing. XPC is conceptually similar to IBM’s Parallel Sysplex mainframe clustering technology.
The new Dorado 590 machine is the same exact 32-way mainframe as the Dorado 580, except that it is priced using the same utility pricing scheme that Unisys shipped on the Libra 290 server in March. Unisys has also announced a pay-per-use variant of the existing Dorado 140 midrange OS2200 mainframe, and has called that the Dorado 150.
Unisys did not provide base system configuration or pricing for any of the new Dorado machines, except to say that they span from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. When pressed, Khanna said that the new machines offered a lot more performance and that the cost per MIPS of pricing on the new Dorado machines would be 15% lower than on the prior Dorado generation.
All of the new generation of Clearpath machines (Libra and Dorado) can support four-way Xeon MP processor cards in lieu of mainframe CMOS engines, and companies can run Windows, Linux, or UnixWare on those x86 boards alongside MCP or OS2200. Unisys has not, as yet, consolidated OS2200 and MCP down to a single machine that also sports Xeon engines, but it is probably only a matter of time since the company has already consolidated all three lines of its servers – the Libras, the Dorados, and the X86-based ES7000s – down to the Cellular MultiProcessing architecture it launched in 2000 for the ES7000s.
With this announcement, Unisys is also rolling out a set of application modernization services, where it will help its mainframe shops inventory their COBOL applications and create a code repository that should help them figure out how to better modularize their monolithic and often repetitive COBOL code. Having documented these legacy applications and streamlined them, the Unisys services will also show customers who to deploy J2EE extensions using the native Java and JBoss support. Khanna says that Unisys mainframe customers like the idea of using Java and JBoss for mission-critical application inside MCP and OS2200, even though they have been able to run this code in Windows (and now Linux) partitions in ClearPath machines for years. We’re seeing a tremendous interest in bringing our mainframe attributes to this open source software, he said, adding that customers generally do not want to rip and replace their code.
When pressed about the need to support .NET natively on the MCP and OS2200 mainframes, Khanna once again hinted that Unisys will be supporting some sort of native implementation of Microsoft Corp’s .NET framework on these machines. As I speculated with the Libra announcements back in March, Unisys has tight ties with Microsoft and could port the Common Language Runtime (CLR) to MCP and OS2200, so that the C# programming language could execute on the machines. Alternatively, Unisys could put its weight behind the open source Mono .NET project, just like it has done with the JBoss application server, and run a clone of .NET natively within its own operating systems. The latter seems more likely than the former.