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Unisys Points to Price Performance in New Benchmark Run

Unisys Corp. this week touted a new set of benchmarks that it says demonstrates the scalability and the price/performance of its flagship ES7000 Intel servers. Also this week, the computing and services company joined Microsoft to promote the software giant’s latest Microsoft Systems Architecture (MSA) configuration for the enterprise data center.

The new TPC-C benchmarks that Unisys announced this week were good enough to earn its non-clustered ES7000 entrant -- which was powered by Intel Corp.’s new 2.0-GHz Xeon MP processors and an advance copy of Windows .NET Server 2003, Datacenter Edition -- a place among the Top 10 overall TPC-C performers. Perched at the top of the list are a couple of clustered and non-clustered entries from Hewlett-Packard Co., Fujitsu, IBM Corp., NEC Corp. and Bull Systems.

Although Unisys’ 32-way ES7000 system was bested by Windows 2000-powered systems from HP and NEC in terms of transaction processing performance, it posted the lowest overall price per number of transactions per minute -- $11.49 -- of any system in the TPC-C Top 10. Moreover, another 32-way Unisys ES7000 system, powered by Intel’s older 1.6 GHz Xeon MP chips and hosting a pre-release version of Windows .NET Server 2003 Datacenter Edition, also cracked the TPC-C’s non-clustered Top 10 list in November. That Unisys system boasted the next-to-lowest price per number of transactions per minute -- $13.18 -- of any other non-clustered configuration in the TCP Top 10.

Mark Feverston, Unisys’ vice president of platform marketing, concedes that benchmarks such as the TPC-C enjoy a mixed reputation among IT decision makers, but points out that Unisys is a services-oriented company with substantial expertise in designing scalable online transaction processing (OLTP) environments, such as that simulated by the TPC-C. Moreover, he suggests, the price/performance of the ES7000 in OLTP environments may be impossible to ignore. “What we’ve done is said we’ve got the best overall one now, it’s simple to manage and we’re now rivaling the performance of those guys in the clustered environment, but we’re doing it at a much lower price.”

For those who are skeptical of the value of benchmarks such as the TPC-C, especially where the upstart Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows .NET operating systems are concerned, Feverston suggests that Unisys’ partnership with Microsoft as part of the latter’s MSA program offers further proof of Windows’ suitability for the enterprise. Microsoft’s MSA program certifies hardware and software configurations for use in specific environments, such as, for example, Internet Data Centers (IDC) and Enterprise Data Centers (EDC). Unisys, Feverston points out, has been onboard the MSA program since Microsoft first launched it 18 months ago.

“We pulled some of the best of the industry together and we put together prescriptive products based on the Microsoft architecture. What that does is it allows a client to see and understand exactly what he has to do, how the infrastructure will be deployed, and give him the predictability to operate efficiently his end-to-end IT technology in a datacenter environment.”

Unisys currently markets its own Internet Data Centers-certified system configuration, based on the ES7000. At some point, Feverston says, it will also offer an EDC-ready system pending certification. In the mean time, he points out, Microsoft’s existing EDC-certified system configuration leverages a Unisys ES7000.

The upshot, Feverston concludes, is that both MSA configurations describe secure, reliable and scalable systems that have been field-tested in their respective environments. “This configuration has been thoroughly tested. It’s not as if we got together with Microsoft and our partners and just drew this thing out on paper. To be MSA-certified, you have to go through the testing process.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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