One of the knocks against Wintel servers is that they can't handle huge applications unless they're linked in a cluster. But Josie Bradley, VP of IT at Mark Anthony Group, Canada's largest privately held alcoholic beverage company, expects the Unisys ES7000 server to easily handle her QAD ERP app and their Cognos PowerPlay and Impromptu business-intelligence apps as she migrates them from Unix to Windows.
The Unisys server, priced from $240,000 to $550,000, will start off with 16 processors. Bradley plans to use 12 for the QAD and Cognos applications and the other four for Microsoft Exchange. More than 500 users access the applications now. When usage increases and more horsepower is needed, she can scale the ES7000 server up to as many as 32 processors. "QAD on Unix was stable and successful," Bradley says. But she's shifting to Windows because "I don't want to support multiple platforms. I can't see anything we won't be able to run on this platform."
Still, Bradley and other Windows users will have to do without some high-end features available on mainframes and big Unix servers, such as dynamic partitioning that lets customers program the system to change capacity levels for apps automatically, until next year.
Analysts say new versions of the Windows OS and the newer Intel-based servers pose a stronger threat to Unix machines when it comes to running large enterprise apps. "Yes, Windows scales to 32 processors," Aberdeen Group analyst Tom Manter says. "There's a big improvement in reliability and scalability and the new Intel-based machines are outperforming anything." He says IBM will deliver a 16-processor Wintel server this summer, but Unisys will be the only vendor with a 32-processor server.
And it will get more powerful. "We believe any commercial apps can go on this system right now," says Mark Feverston, VP of enterprise server marketing at Unisys. Still, Intel later this year is expected to provide emulation technology to let the ES7000 scale to 64 processors, he says. "The pressure is coming down on 25-year-old apps, like a millstone around IT executives' necks, to upgrade or make changes to those apps."