Unisys, MS Team Up to Woo Enterprises Away from Unix

Unisys and Microsoft next month will team up to enterprises away from Unix/RISC platforms and over to systems powered by Intel chips and running Windows, officials said.

Unisys Corp. and Microsoft Corp. next month will launch a joint program aimed at luring enterprises away from Unix/RISC platforms and over to systems powered by Intel Corp. chips and running Windows, according to Unisys officials.

In a study conducted in April surveying 16,000 Unix systems users, Unisys found that 35 percent of businesses running Sun Microsystems Inc.s SPARC/Solaris environments were interested in migrating to another platform, said Bill Jefferis, director of migration services at the Blue Bell, Pa., company. Analyst reports have backed that up, and Unisys plans to have an analyst firm conduct another one, he said.

The moves are being fueled by a number of issues, including the desire to move to a less expensive platform than Unix, the desire to consolidate their data center resources and worries about Suns financial situation., he said.

"There is a real sea change occurring," Jefferis said. "Theyre looking to standardize their next-generation data center. … None of us know where theyre going to go."

Unisys hopes the migration program will convince them to run Microsofts Windows platform on Unisys Intel Corp.-based ES7000 servers, he said.

The program—which Unisys officially will announce Jan. 13, around the same time Jefferis said Microsoft will unveil a similar migration initiative—will involve a combination of assessment and migration services, he said. Unisys and Microsoft will jointly market the migration efforts, he said.

Unisys will oversee the management of migration projects, which will initially include infrastructure services and initial one- or two-day assessments. A more extensive two- to three-week assessment of a customers IT infrastructure will follow, including analysis of such issues as migration needs and risks. Proof-of-concept scenarios can be created via migration of a small part of a customers IT infrastructure, followed by more wholesale migration if the enterprise desires, Jefferis said.

In addition, Unisys and Microsoft will be joined by other vendors, including Intel, EMC Corp. and Infosys Technologies Inc. to create a consortium around the migration idea and to run seminars to address enterprise questions.

Unisys already has about five customers looking to migrate via the plan, Jefferis said.

The program is aimed at a number of Unix and legacy platforms, including Hewlett-Packard Co.s HP3000 and HP-UX and IBMs AS/400 and AIX, Jefferis said. But Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., is the sweet spot, he said.

"Sun is creating a kind of anti-marketing message by their own situation," he said.

However, Larry Singer, vice president of Suns global information systems strategy office, dismissed the program as little more than Unisys attempt to gain some exposure for its ES7000 systems, which run Windows, at a time when Linux is growing as an operating system of choice in the high end.

"If this was IBM, wed be saying something different. … But this is Unisys, which is just trying to find a way to sell some boxes," Singer said. "Linux is just eating their lunch."

The Sun executive added that Unisys survey on the Unix market was done when rumors of Sun being sold were circulating, and before the companys aggressive push into the Linux and x86 spaces.

"Polls are a really good indicator [of opinions at the moment in time], but anyone who uses polls as facts is really in trouble," Singer said. "A lot of the buzz that caused people to worry about Sun is gone. … I couldnt feel less threatened."

Unisys program comes on the heels of one introduced by Intel on Monday. The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker is hoping to lure users of 64-bit RISC-based systems to its Itanium architecture by letting customers test drive Itanium 2-based servers for free for up to three months.

At the end of the three months, the customer can buy the system or have Intel remove it. The Intel Itanium 2 Solution Challenge will run through next summer, according to Intel officials.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read more about Intels Itanium server test drive program, click here.