Unisys' Takes On HP, IBM, Sun With Its First Linux Server

The Blue Bell, Penn. systems integrator, which is partnering with Linux software leaders Novell and Red Hat, said customer pressure forced the decision. Unisys has implemented 20 Linux-based systems at customer sites in recent months but decided to go public and make this offering available to all customers due to increasing demand.

VARs and observers said the new offering is very competitive against HP, IBM and Sun because it is the first Intel-based system running Linux that provides dynamic partitioning and it can scale up to 32-way systems.

Unisys executives said Microsoft has been aware of the decision for roughly a month and denies that the move will sour relations between the two vendors.

"Microsoft understands. We're reacting to market reaction. We have large clients that they are moving to Linux and they want to stay with our products and we're not in a position to lose them," said Leo Diauto, Vice President and General Manager of Systems and Technology for Unisys.

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"We've had a lot of customers coming to us about the possibility of going to Linux, most have been in Unix environments and they want to go to Linux. There are some in proprietary RISC world tied religiously to Unix and do not want to move to Windows, so now we can play in open Unix space. We can't afford to turn business away."

The system has been installed at InteliTrac, Penn State University and Medscheme, a health care provider in South Africa that converted from SCO UnixWare to Linux on Unisys' Intel-based ES7000.

One VAR that has installed the systems at two customer sites said it'll allow him to go after more Unix customers who want to move to Linux. "It takes them from niche player to a mainstream player and more competitive when up against HP, Sun and IBM," said John Moran, vice president of sales for NBS Technologies, Danvers, Mass.

Until now, Unisys has focused exclusively on the high-end Windows platform. Moran said Unisys has been considered a niche player because there are not as many high-end Windows applications in production compared to those in the Unix and the mainframe world.

"If customers are tired with Sun Solaris, HP UX, or IBM AIX, this allows you to get into dynamic partitioning with Linux," Moran said, noting that this solution allows customers to run multiple and mixed operating systems and workloads on the same box.

At LinuxWorld Expo, Sun announced an enhanced family of AMD Opteron-based Sun Fire V20z and V40z servers that will run Linux, Windows or Sun Solaris.

Unisys has worked more closely with Novell SUSE for six months and with Red Hat only in recent weeks, Diauto said. The 32-bit ES7000 currently runs with Novell's Enterprise SUSE Linux 9 on 8-way, 16-way and 32-way servers. The 64-bit ES7000 supports 8-way and 16-way systems and will soon provide 32-way support.

The ES7000 supports 4-way and 8-way systems running Red Hat Enterprise Linux and this week the company will launch a 16-way system based on Red Hat Linux, executives said.