NCR Corp claims its OEM relationship with Sun Microsystems Inc for Solaris x86 Unix is working well, but it is being very cagey about just how far the relationship has progressed. NCR’s long- term plan is to utilize a 64-bit cut of Solaris x86 on its future Intel Merced servers instead of the Unix MP-RAS operating system it sells on its current SMP Intel lines. The 32-bit Solaris x86, version 2.6, is currently available on NCR’s one-to-eight way WorldMark 4380 OctaScale, 4300 and entry-level S series Pentium Pro servers. It isn’t available on the high-end WorldMark 5000 and 4700 MPP boxes and it is not currently supported by its Teradata warehouse database – which is being ported to Windows NT. NCR says Teradata will be supported on the 64-bit Solaris, presumably along with the BYnet parallel interconnect used in the 5000 series, although the company is somewhat vague about these plans.
Not been said
Although NCR says it is now offering customers the choice of Solaris or MP-RAS on supported systems, you’d be hard pressed to notice given the lack of Solaris information on NCR’s web site. Its pages offer a choice of industry accepted operating systems – NCR Unix SVR4 MP-RAS, Microsoft Windows NT, SCO Unix, SCO UnixWare, IBM OS/2, or Novell Netware. NCR wouldn’t say how much business it has done on Solaris, what the take-up rate of Solaris is versus MP-RAS, or how many customers are or have migrated systems and applications to Solaris. Certain MP-RAS functions are being built into the full-blown 64-bit version of Solaris which is now at alpha release and due later this year, though it wouldn’t exactly say what the functions would be. However, as NCR’s system software research and development dollars are going into its high-availability, high-performance subsystem and systems management technologies, it is a safe bet to assume a good deal of this will show up. Sun has already said NCR’s LifeKeeper failover and clustering software will be available as a layered product though NCR declined to say who will sell the work. NCR, which chose to buy in its 64-bit Unix from Sun instead of Santa Cruz Operation Inc and other Unix vendors, says it has no plan to go back to the SCO fold: VP and general manager of server products Marty Seyer says he hasn’t spoken to SCO in months. The SCO products it supports on its low-end servers are mostly configured in the channel although it does still sell SCO Unix. Is NCR concerned at Sun’s apparent lack of ability to pull in other Solaris x86 OEMs or that there are only some 2,500-odd applications available for it compared with the 12,000-odd on Solaris Sparc, a full-blown 64-bit operating system? No. All that’s been said has not been said, it hinted darkly. Meantime, NCR has added new dual-processor Pentium II S20 and the S26XLPII entry-level servers aimed at branch automation, call center, retail and hospitality markets. They run NT, SCO UnixWare, NetWare, MP-RAS or OS/2. The S20 uniprocessor costs from $3,700 to about $11,500 for a two-processor. The S26XLPII goes from $5,600 to $14,200. NCR’s entry-level server and PCs are manufactured by Solectron Corp.
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