Unisys Ships New ES7000 500 Series

Unisys has begun shipping the new 500 series of the company's established ES7000 server line. In addition to upgraded features for customers who run versions of Windows Datacenter Server, the extended line includes entry-level servers for customers who run Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition. The servers all use the Unisys Cellular MultiProcessing (CMP) architecture.

I had a chance to examine the new servers at the Unisys Engineering Evaluation Lab in Pennsylvania, and I discovered several changes since I last wrote about the server series (see "Datacenter: Up Close and Personal" http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=20716 ). The new servers are available in 4-way configurations up to 32-way configurations. The servers are based on a 19-inch rack-mount design that Unisys calls a “cell” (these aren't blade servers). For scalability, you can connect any number of cells, using a unique connection called a side plane that lets the combined units act as one server. Unisys technicians point out that this connection method means performance doesn't degrade as you connect additional cells. Customers can purchase a server with up to 32 processors on one cell or start with fewer processors and scale as needed.

The servers ship with Server Sentinel, which replaces the management software utility previously installed on ES7000 servers. The software checks the system and offers predictive health monitoring, self-healing, and other features. The product's “call home” function notifies IT management personnel of problems, and technicians can communicate with the server from a computer, a Tablet PC, or even a cell phone connection.

A new suite of management modules called Application Sentinel is also available. Administrators can use the utilities to manage server consolidations and allocate system resources to applications. One module is designed specifically for optimizing complex Microsoft SQL Server databases.

The ES7000 series is available for Windows, UNIX, and Linux, but Unisys Vice President Mark Feverston said that the biggest customer demand is for Windows. “Our business is Windows,” he said, “that’s our expertise." Most of the current ES7000 customers run SQL Server (most on Windows 2000 Datacenter), although about 30 percent run Oracle (some customers run both SQL Server and Oracle). A Unisys spokesman said the company is seeing some growth in the number of customers running IBM DB2.

The new 510 server is available with 4, 6, or 8 processors, with a 4-way box selling for about $35,000. The 520 server is available with 8 to 16 processors, the 530 server comes in a 2 x 16-way configuration, and the 540 server is available with 16 to 32 processors.

Vice President of Product Development and Technology Leo Daiuto said that offering the CMP architecture in a small, rack-mountable footprint means that customers can grow their infrastructures as needed, which protects their hardware investment. He also pointed out that the new servers are customer installable, adding that “a customer can install Windows 2003 Datacenter in less than 3 hours.” Previously, ES7000 servers were delivered with preloaded OSs. The new 500 series is currently available for 32-bit processors, and the 64-bit versions will be available later this year.