Unisys Brings Cloud Management, VMware Support to Forward Systems

Unisys' newest integrated computing models also use the latest Intel Xeon chips, with the enhancements improving performance and automation.

Unisys is making it easier for organizations leveraging the vendor's Forward integrated computing platform to provision and manage their business-critical workloads across cloud and on-premises data center environments.

Among the enhancements Unisys officials are making to its Forward platform are the ability to integrate the vendor's Choreographer cloud management software, which enables the automated provisioning and management of workloads, and support for VMware applications. Unisys also is arming some of its latest Forward systems with the latest Intel Xeon processors.

The new capabilities, announced Feb. 17, are designed to enable businesses to more easily use the Forward platform in hybrid cloud environments, according to Rob Cashman, vice president of mission-critical servers and solutions for Unisys.

"By boosting the power of the platform and enabling support for Choreographer's automation capabilities, we are giving CIOs extraordinary flexibility to tap exactly the cloud and data-center resources they need to respond in real time to suddenly emerging business challenges and opportunities," Cashman said in a statement.

Unisys officials for several years have been migrating their ClearPath mainframes onto Intel's x86 processors, and have launched specialty engines for Windows- and Linux-based applications to help them run better on the ClearPath systems. In October 2013, Unisys released its Forward computing platform, which combines Unisys' s-Par partitioning technology with the virtualization capabilities on Intel's chips to create a fabric architecture that can handle high-end applications while reducing the number of physical servers needed and cutting capital expenses by as much as 60 percent.

The s-Par technology is used to carve up x86 servers, memory and storage into partitions, which offer businesses greater flexibility, scalability and agility when provisioning and managing high-end workloads in hybrid environments.

In a conference call Jan. 29 to talk about the company's latest quarterly financial numbers, Peter Altabef, who was named Unisys' president and CEO in December, said Forward is a key part of the vendor's future plans.

"I have no doubt that Forward, as well as Stealth [Unisys' software-based security technology], will continue to be … important initiatives for us," Altabef said, according to a transcript on Seeking Alpha. "To put Forward in context, it is already being used as an integral part of our new systems as we ship ClearPath. So Forward and ClearPath effectively are integrating together for many of our new clients and existing clients."

The ability to integrate the Choreographer software into Forward will enable businesses to reduce the time it takes to provision the platform by automating the management of virtual workloads in data centers as well as private clouds that not only leverage VMware technology, but also run in clouds like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure platform.

With the support for VMware-based workloads, users can enable applications that run in the Forward partitions to interoperate with workloads in VMware virtual machines over the high-speed interconnect found in the Forward fabric, which ramps up data transfer speeds by reducing bottlenecks, according to Unisys officials.

In the new Forward Model 1100, Unisys is using Intel's "Ivy Bridge" Xeon processors. However, the new midrange Models 2120 and 2160 use the newer "Haswell" chips. The new systems double the number of available processor cores over previous models, and support up to eight, 20 and 30 partitions per node. A single Forward fabric can accommodate up to 192 partitions, officials said.

The new models are available immediately, while the version of Choreographer—Release 4.1—that can integrate with Forward systems will be available in the second quarter.