To compare the scalability of Unix and Windows NT is like comparing "a Mercedes and a Honda Accord".
But users should always think about what they are trying to accomplish with their operating system because the NT environment is well suited to small shops and for hooking distibuted environments together.
These were the conclusions reached by a panel staged at the Comdex Enterprise conference in San Francisco, discussing whether NT can scale - and whether it matters.
Tim Keefauver, Compaq?s software products manager, explained: ?The world?s most scalable systems are the OS/390 and Tandem?s Himalaya boxes and NT won?t be able to handle that level of work for the next five years."
He went on: "You have to be careful with NT that you?ve got enough headroom. A lot of customers want four times the potential scalability of the machines they buy, but most don?t fear whether they?ll get enough performance. The real problem is availability and manageability and you need to be really careful with NT or you?ll get into trouble.?
He added that other weak spots of the operating system were the lack of redundant fans and power supplies on the market to ensure uptime, plus a dearth of disaster recovery software.
Eric Jaeger, Sun Microsystems? chief technologist for the western area, continued: ?When looking at scalability, users don?t tend to plan for the problem of success, but user demand may explode overnight. When you look at scalability, you need to look at the application and see how it will be used, but Unix is by far the most scalable - there can be a difference of between 50 and 100 times between the high and low end and NT.?
But Steven Wilder, Microsoft?s NT architectural engineer, retorted that NT could perform if the balance were set correctly between vertical and distributed scalability - it simply depended on where one drew the line, he argued.
?The question is what the customer expects. They do expect raw power, but cost efficiency is also becoming increasingly important," he said. "I see NT?s application deployment capability as very important. NT?s focus is hosting many applications in many ways and to be able to integrate and plug into a platform that does enterprise data warehousing or acts as a large transaction store, for example. There are no problems is you follow the standards."
He admitted that the ?OS platform needs to grow up and scale a bit better?, but said that it had only been on the market for five years and it took between five and 10 years to establish a reputation. ?Vertical scalability is very important, but distributed scalability will make sense too,? he added.
As Sukan Makmuri from Bank of America concluded: ?Microsoft will do it one way for business reasons, but if your application doesn?t suit their model, then you?re out of luck.?
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