Unisys, which has been mainly regarded as a hardware company that produces its own line of x86 servers and mainframes, is moving away from boxes and into software and services for its customers.
As part of its new business model, the Blue Bell, Pa., company is rolling out a new management software suite – Unisys Infrastructure Management Suite – as well as offering new services based on its own expertise in the data center. In keeping with its hardware legacy, the company also plans to unveil a new blade server and offer updates to its midrange line of systems as well.
All of these changes fall under what Rich Marcello, the president of Unisys Systems and Technology, calls Real Time Infrastructure. Marcello explained that instead of looking at individual pieces within the data center, Unisys’ RTI strategy looks to focus on a pool of resources and how those resources should be used to meet the needs of enterprise at any given time.
Unlike other vendors, such as Hewlett-Packard and its Adaptive Infrastructure program that offers similar management software and services, Unisys looks to remain neutral in regards to the operating system used as well as the platform and architecture. Marcello said that in addition to its own software, Unisys will choose other products from different vendors that best fit customers’ needs.
“We are basically moving away from a hardware-centric company,” Marcello said, “to a more solution-centric company that is focused on…what the hardware can do underneath all that.”
For example, when it comes to virtualization – a technology that has swept through the industry in the last few years – Marcello believes that many companies are unsure of how it brings the benefits into the full data center. With the services that Unisys is offering, Marcello believes that the company’s engineers will be able to repurpose the hardware for virtualization much more efficiently, while the Virtual Orchestration part of the management suite will provide provisioning and management tools for the IT staff.
In addition to virtualization, the Unisys management suite is offering tools for disaster recovery, test and development automation and data center migration, among other benefits.
Playing Neutral and Partnering
Unisys is also turning to third-party software vendors to create additional tools for its new management suite. For example, Unisys uAdapt, which allows for the repurposing of server hardware in real time, is based on software for Scalent Systems.
Andrew Butler, an analyst with Gartner, said Unisys has been moving away from its legacy as a hardware provider in the last three years in favor of a new business model that focuses on services. One reason is that Unisys cannot compete in a volume, x86 server market with the likes of HP and Dell.
In order to succeed, Unisys needs to convince its customers in specific vertical markets, such as financial services, local governments and transportation that it can serve their needs with the commitment required by an IBM or HP.
“Unisys is betting that while HP’s approach will appeal to HP users, it will be treated with more suspicion by clients of IBM, Sun, etc.,” Butler wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK. “The proof of this strategy will be Unisys’ ability to partner – with other hardware vendors, OS vendors and application vendors – to make the vision real. While other vendors concentrate on delivering a great management experience for their own stack or hardware platforms, Unisys can concentrate on a more solutions-oriented message that just might find some followers.”
In addition to the new management suite and services, Unisys is also offering new servers and updates that relate back to its legacy hardware business. This includes the ES5000 blade, which offers more I/O configurations that fit with the company’s RTI strategy. The hardware updates also include improvements to the Unisys’ ES3000, which updates the line with new Intel Xeon processors.