In a total overhaul of its server strategy, Siemens-Nixdorf (SNI) announced that it will standardise on Intel's IA-64 architecture and Sun's Solaris Unix system.
In return, Sun will incorporate 'Reliability Availability and Scalability' (RAS) technology from SNI into Solaris to increase its robustness for high end enterprise applications.
The move is one made for the sake of standards rather than performance - SNI does not expect IA-64/Solaris to catch up with all aspects of its current Mips/Reliant Unix combination until 2002 - and will require a major migration path for users of all three SNI server lines.
"As we near the next century, we expect that the Solaris/IA-64 will establish itself as the de facto standard for high performance enterprise server technology," said Robert Hoog, head of SNI's Open Enterprise Computing line of business.
The German computer maker will move all its server systems to IA-64 chips, initially Merced. The move will include its Primergy servers, already Intel based; the proprietary BS2000 mainframes; and the RM servers, currently based on Mips Risc processors - another loss to the dwindling Mips camp.
The RM servers will move from SNI's own Reliant Unix, whose RAS features will be incorporated in Solaris, to the Sun system, which will become SNI's standard Unix OS.
The first IA-64/Solaris systems from SNI will appear in the second half of 1999, and by 2002 all server lines will have standardised on this combination.
According to Jim Guilmart, Senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Siemens-Nixdorf made the decision to select the IA-64 architecture and drop Mips more than six months ago. It then negotiated with "all the providers out there" about the best Unix operating system to go with the chip. The details of the deal with Sun were worked out over the past 90 days.
Guilmart said that one of the factors that swung SNI was Sun's willingness to build in parts of the Reliant technology into Solaris, providing a migration path for users of the RM servers. SNI was also attracted to the large number of applications available for Solaris.
For more details, see analysis section.
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