Freed from the straitjacket of its IBM Corp development agreement on symmetric multiprocessing PowerPC, courtesy of its new Escala systems, Compagnie des Machines Bull SA is bolting to what it hopes will be more lucrative pastures. Volume sales are likely to be driven primarily by a multiple operating system strategy, reckons Bull, and it will speed development of Peripheral Component Interconnect bus versions of its Escala range which will run AIX, NT, Solaris, and eventually native NetWare. It is to develop Peripheral Component Interconnect with Motorola Inc as part of their wide-ranging agreement (CI No 2,499). The first such box may be out by mid-1995. Bull will offer other entry-level Peripheral Component Interconnect bus PowerPC Reference Platform-compliant boxes sourced from Motorola’s Computer Group under the same agreement: Motorola is expected to launch its machines on October 4, again running AIX and NT initially. Bull’s decision is yet another blow to IBM’s PowerPC hopes, as Bull had originally planned to cut a deal for the entry boxes with the Power Personal crowd, but was apparently deterred by the experience of working with IBM on Pegasus and its desire to get the benefit of a broad marketing agreement with Motorola. In return, Motorola will take Escalas, presumably to supersede its 88110 lines. Bull has gone to SunSoft Inc direct for a Solaris deal, and is working with Motorola on terms with Novell Inc for NetWare, though there is no detail to speak of yet, just the intention. The importance of the Escala machines to Bull lies in their potential to boost the company’s mid-range Unix-based revenues. Last year, half of Bull’s turnover came from its proprietary mainframe base and the company is anxious to push up the percentage of its turnover generated by its Unix-based range. Alain Couder, president of Bull’s open systems and software division, said new sales of Unix systems were up by 30% in the first half of the year and added up to $500m in turnover, of which $300m came from hardware sales and $200m from associated services. He wants to get Bull’s direct sales revenue, currently at 18%, up to around the 30% mark. The pricing war for the new machines should become clearer this week, but already the systems are looking expensive. A one-to-four CPU M101 mini-tower with a single central processor unit, 500Kb Level 2 cache, 32Mb to 512Mb RAM, 1Gb to 18Gb disk, four Micro Channel input-output slots, SCSI 2, CD-ROM and Ethernet, starts at $20,000.
Parole Office in England
A typical four processor machine with 256Mb RAM, 4Gb disk and 15 input-output slots will cost $90,000. M201 is a two-to-four way affair. The two-to-eight processor D201 deskside has 1Mb Level 2 cache, 64Mb to 2Gb RAM, 2Gb to 36Gb disk and up to seven Micro Channel slots. The D401 four-to-eight way, as a deskside or cabinet, has 1Mb Level 2 cache, 256Mb to 2Gb RAM, 4Gb to 99Gb disk and up to 15 slots. The R201 is a rackmounted D401 with more disk available. Bull quotes typical prices of $30,500 for a two-way M401 with 128Mb RAM and 4Gb disk, and $92,000 for a four-way deskside D401 with 256Mb RAM and 4Gb disk. The systems all run symmetric multiprocessing AIX 4.1 and are scheduled to ship by the end of the year, bar eight-way configurations which require the Mississippi clustering: these are due in mid-1995. Uniprocessor 604 configurations are promised at the end of the first quarter of next year, symmetric multiprocessing 604 by mid-year and 620 systems by the third quarter. Bull reckons Escala with its Distributed Computing Model outdoes symmetric multiprocessing RS/6000s, and is pushing this message to its indirect channel through a new Powerful Advantage reseller scheme. Custom transaction processing versions with Bull’s UniKix for CICS downsizing and HVX, which enables GCOS 6 applications to run under AIX Unix, to pick up Bull’s DPS 6000 minicomputer base is due by next June. At least one large deal for the product was signed before the announcement: sources at the Parole Office in England, with which Bull has just signed a UKP50m, sev
en-year deal, say that the majority of the servers supplied as part of a Case Management system will be Escalas perhaps as many as 50.