Unisys Corp is planning versions of both its ES7000 servers and ClearPath mainframes that are capable of running the Linux operating system, ComputerWire has learned. Unisys has said in the past that it had no plans to support Linux on those machines.
However, a source close to the development told ComputerWire that there will be a version of the Unisys ClearPath mainframe available in the first half of 2003 that is able to run Linux partitions, while a version of its ES7000 – currently one of the most scalable Intel-based servers on the market – is also apparently being developed with support for Linux.
The development work is especially secretive due to Unisys’ close relationship with Microsoft: the Unisys ES7000 hardware, which scales from eight to 32 processors and from two to eight partitions, and the Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server operating system, combine to form a powerful and less costly alternative to traditional midrange and enterprise Unix servers, and Unisys and Microsoft could not be closer partners.
However, as ComputerWire has previously reported, because Microsoft was late to market with its Datacenter Server operating system, and because so many companies have Unix server experience, the ability to run Linux on the ES7000s and as partitions on Unisys’ ClearPath mainframes marks a step-change in the attractiveness of those machines. But it does also bring into question the incredibly tight relationship between Unisys and Microsoft.
A source, who asked not to be named, said that the ability to run Linux as a partition on the ClearPath mainframes will be available before the end of the second half of 2003. The mainframes can already run a combination of Unisys’ OS2200 and MCP operating systems, as well as Windows in partitions. The source also said that a version of the ES7000 server capable of running Linux is in the works. No timeframe for the delivery of that machine was revealed.
The ability to add Linux as a partition to the ClearPath mainframe will not only mean that Unisys’ mainframe is one of the most versatile machines on the block – IBM’s zSeries mainframe can run IBM operating systems as well as Linux, but not Windows – it also means it becomes an extremely attractive proposition for companies that wish to consolidate heterogeneous servers on to a single machine.
While the ES7000 has only sold in relatively small numbers (in the order of 600 machines by July 2002, since the machine debuted in late 2000), it has been praised for its scalability and reliability. However, its stumbling block has been the fact that it runs Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, when so many enterprises are looking for an alternative to more expensive proprietary Unix machines, but also want to maintain their skills and even applications investment in Unix. Running Linux, with the scalability and reliability offered by the ES7000, could be just the answer they are looking for.