Unisys Unveils Enterprise-Class Virtualization to Give ClearPath Clients Greater Data Center Efficiency

Unisys has introduced new offerings aimed at significantly increasing the performance and cost-efficiency of data centers powered by its ClearPath family of mainframe servers.

The new offerings include secure partitioning (sPar), a Unisys-developed virtualization technology for ClearPath systems based on Intel processors. The sPar capability brings enterprise-class virtualization to clients' data centers, enabling ClearPath users to make more efficient use of special-purpose processors called specialty engines to modernize applications and streamline resource management.

Unisys also announced the addition of more powerful mid-range Intel processor-based models to the ClearPath Libra and Dorado families - the sPar-enabled Libra 4100 Series and the Dorado 4100 Series.

In its initial release, the sPar technology - debuting with the new ClearPath Libra 4100 Series - divides a high-performance system based on Intel processors into four secure partitions. The partitions accommodate the central processing complex - where the ClearPath MCP operating system runs - and three specialty engines. The specialty engines perform specific application functions, such as web services and Java application deployment. 

What makes sPar different from commodity virtualization technologies in the market, Bill Maclean, vice president, ClearPath portfolio management, Unisys, tells 5 Minute Briefing, is that each partition is the equivalent of a freestanding server, containing dedicated processors, memory and I/O channels. Additionally, each partition is under the direct control of the ClearPath operating system, and communications among all components occur at memory speed - faster than they would over conventional network connections.

The "unique" sPar design approach, says Maclean, delivers the key benefits of enterprise-class computing, including consistent performance and security. Partitioning also makes the computing environment more reliable, because a failure in one partition does not affect another. Control of management functions across all secure partitions by the ClearPath operating system - including backup/restore and disaster recovery - eliminates the need for virtual servers to be managed independently, creating a more reliable, cost-efficient environment.

"This sPar technology has been under development for close to 6 years," says Maclean. "It is a very complex technology. It takes full advantage of the unique characteristics that Intel has built into their most current generation of Intel processor, the VT technology, so that enables much more powerful and capable virtualization."

Clients can use the specialty engines to extend ClearPath solutions quickly and cost-effectively to meet evolving user demands for new features and capabilities.

Unisys specialty engines include ClearPath ePortal for MCP and ClearPath ePortal for OS 2200, which enable workers using devices such as Apple iPhones and iPads to access ClearPath resources through a familiar look and feel; ClearPath MCP and OS 2200 JProcessor, which integrates new Java applications in a secure, service-oriented architecture; ClearPath MCP and OS 2000 Crypto processor, which provides extra levels of data encryption for high-security applications; and ClearPath OS 2200 QProcessor, which provides transparent information exchange between systems through the IBM WebSphere MQ Server messaging facility.

Specialty engines establish a fast, cost-effective means to enrich ClearPath solutions," says Unisys. For example, through the ClearPath ePortal an airline reservation system with which ticket agents currently interact through a conventional terminal-style interface can be transformed to use web services and a tablet device, such as an iPad, to deliver a contemporary interface. This modernization can be achieved without changing the core reservations application. The result is a solution that improves customer satisfaction and lowers overall costs by simplifying operations for ticket agents and reducing training time and errors.

Other virtualization technologies aim to carve up servers into multiple virtual servers in order to efficiently use the processing power, observes Maclean. "We didn't have the same problem with the MCP, but we what we decided is that through sPAR, we can carve this platform up and basically deliver specialty functions with higher performance at lower cost, and with greater security. The motivation was also: How do you economically establish a very productive environment for a modernized application - and sPar is a major contributor in that area."

The specialty engines can be activated through a key either when the platform is initially ordered, or subsequently when there is a need, with no change in hardware, emphasizes Maclean. "What we want to be able to do is allow a customer to quickly and easily and cost-effectively react when something changes in their environment and we are able to do that by delivering everything but activating it only when it is licensed and activating it through a key."

These specialty engines now available from Unisys are the forerunner of many more that will be available over the next one to two years and provide extensive application modernization for ClearPath systems, he adds.

In addition, Unisys' new mid-range ClearPath Libra 4100 Series and Dorado 4100 Series are the latest models based on Unisys next-generation architecture using Intel x64 processors. The new models more than double the single-image application performance of the predecessor 4000 Series models.

The new models have extensive reliability and resilience features, including mirrored memory and redundant hot-plug power and cooling. A high-availability option - available immediately for the Dorado 4100 Series and planned for the second quarter of 2011 for the Libra 4100 Series - provides a dual-cell (processor complex) configuration featuring a hot standby. The Libra 4100 Series with the high-availability option includes redundant specialty engines for a scripted transparent failover.

Both new models are available with metering, a pay-for-use system software licensing capability that enables clients to match IT resources to business requirements and pay for the processing power they use, as they use it.

For more on this from Unisys, go here.