Smaller Servers Get a Taste of the High End

Unisys brings big features to small systems.

Unisys Corp. is looking to bring high-end server features into the midrange with the launch last week of a family of smaller servers based on its ES7000 systems.
Unisys ES7000/500 Server

The ES7000/500 servers (pictured), formerly code-named Dylan, can scale from four to 32 processors in 4U (7-inch) building blocks and include advanced server management and security software. The servers will be able to run Microsoft Corp.s Windows Server 2003 operating system, which will be launched April 24.

The suite of machines comes in four models, beginning with the Aries 510, a four-processor unit, and running up to the 32-processor Orion 540, according to officials with the Blue Bell, Pa., company. They are powered by Intel Corp.s Xeon MP processors running at either 1.5GHz or 2GHz, with 1MB or 2MB of on-die memory cache.

Unisys Server Sentinel 2.0 software, which will come loaded on the ES7000/500 servers, boasts such new security features as expanded user role definitions and security breach detection capabilities. It also includes autonomic computing capabilities, enabling users to manage the servers remotely, and offers a predictive health capability for clustered environments.

The servers can be shipped with Application Sentinel software, which Unisys unveiled last month. Pricing for the servers runs from $35,000 to $400,000, officials said. Although the servers are available now, versions with the upcoming Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition will be available May 30. The servers can run a variety of Microsoft operating systems.

However, the reliance of Unisys on Microsoft technology continues to be the vendors Achilles heel in pushing its ES7000 servers, said Jim Garden, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc., in Hampton, N.H. "The ES7000 ... was supposed to take Wintel into the data center," Garden said. "But its highly reliant on Microsoft."

The problem is that many enterprises are reluctant to use Windows in their data centers because of problems with availability and security, Garden said.

Garden questioned whether Microsofts release of Windows Server 2003 will change that perception. If it doesnt, then Unisys will continue having difficulty persuading businesses to bank on the ES7000 servers, he said.