Unisys Cloud Solutions to Access ClearPath Mainframes for Development

Unisys is unveiling a managed cloud computing initiative, ClearPath Cloud Solutions, which will give businesses access to its ClearPath mainframes. The first offering, available later in the quarter, will focus on development and test environments.

Unisys is creating a managed cloud computing lineup based on its ClearPath line of mainframes.

Unisys officials introduced the first offering July 22, the ClearPath Cloud Development and Test Solution, aimed at businesses looking to develop and test applications for ClearPath systems.

The goal of the ClearPath Cloud Solutions initiative is to give businesses access to the mainframe's computing capacity without them having to invest in new systems or worry about managing them, according to Bill Maclean, vice president of ClearPath portfolio management for Unisys.

Giving businesses access to the type of computing capacity offered in the ClearPath systems is a key differentiator from other cloud computing packages, Maclean said in an interview with eWEEK.

"It really is an enterprise-class kind of offering," he said.

The ClearPath Cloud Solutions initiative is only the latest effort Unisys has pursued in the cloud computing space. The company in 2009 unveiled its Secure Cloud Solution, which is designed to bring greater security to cloud computing through the use of a Unisys-developed security technology called Stealth.

The initial Secure Cloud Solution was a public cloud offering. In November 2009, Unisys rolled out its Secure Private Cloud Solution, which presents all the features of the public version as a prepackaged offering.

This next step is aimed at enterprises looking to access ClearPath computing power without having to buy the systems, which Maclean said is important given the current uncertain economic times.

The ClearPath Cloud Development and Test Solution will be available later this quarter. That will be followed by cloud solutions for production environments, data replication, and disaster and recovery, and for select application-as-a-service offerings for customers' specific industry requirements, Maclean said. Unisys currently offers such an application, the Unisys Logistics Management System, to help airlines manage air cargo.

The other cloud PAAS (platform as a service) solutions will be introduced later this year and in 2011, he said.

With ClearPath Cloud Development and Test Solution, businesses will be able to license time on ClearPath systems in Unisys' Eagan, Minn., data center in three-month blocks. Developers who need extra capacity or computing power will be able to license what they need from Unisys, including an SDK (software development kit) for the latest MCP or OS 2200 operating environments, virtual CPU, memory, storage and networking resources, maintenance and support, and software enhancement releases.

The cloud offering will "add a burst of capacity" for developers when they need it, Maclean said.

Unisys has been using these cloud computing capabilities in-house for a couple of years, he said. After improving some of features, such as the human interface, management capabilities and onboarding process, officials decided to make the capabilities available outside of the company.

"We've been doing this for a couple of years, and we know it works," Maclean said.

Like other tech vendors, Unisys has been hearing from customers about their interest in moving to a cloud environment to some degree. IT departments are under pressure to bring costs down while improving productivity and efficiency, and are looking for alternatives to traditional data center business models, Maclean said.

In a recent online poll, 46 percent of respondents said development and test environments would be the first ones they'd move to the cloud.