Some people commission market research to work out where to locate a new store, others to find out whether they will win an election, and some do it to try to demonstrate that their major business strategy, on which they’ve hung their hat, is actually going to work. Tandem Computer Corp has just announced the findings of a survey it commissioned in Europe entitled ‘The Future of Windows NT Server for Commercial Applications’, and since the Non-Stop hardware and software firm is unlikely to be looking for a high street location or standing for government, it looks like it might be a tad nervous about whether NT is ever really going to make it in the high-end, enterprise systems space. Even the most cynical NT skeptics would probably concede that what NT has going for it is that there is only one NT, as opposed to numerous Unix flavors, and it has the might of Microsoft Corp and its hundreds of partners behind it, so that there is little doubt that it will eventually make it into the high-end, enterprise arena. The question for Tandem seems to be how soon? Tandem’s European NT marketing manager Paul Davey quoted an article in Computergram (CI No 3,183), in which IBM Corp’s vice president NT marketing Jocelyne Attal compares NT with the companies AS/400 systems for high end applications, and says NT is good at the moment for departmental systems but NT doesn’t scale today and everybody knows it. Davey then set out to use the survey results to try to dispute this point. The independent survey was conducted over the past few weeks among 90 representatives of leading European consultancies and analyst firms, because, said Davey, the analysts and consultants are the people that influence the direction taken by many of the world’s top companies. According to these people, there is a surprisingly large upturn of interest in NT from the telecommunications sector, traditionally a staunch Unix environment. 62% of analysts questioned said they believed the market for NT in the sector would increase strongly over the next five years. As far as Tandem is concerned, telecommunications is the one area in which it is particularly strong with its Unix systems.
By Joanne Wallen
Whereas the overall results of the survey, which naturally point to the growing importance of NT in the enterprise over the next few years, may vindicate Tandem’s commitment to NT, the company will no doubt face some stiff competition in the telecommunications market, if and when this sector moves to the commodity world of NT. The survey found that one major concern about NT for high end, enterprise level systems is the lack of system management and security tools, and also the dearth of mission critical transaction processing applications. However, 71% of those surveyed believed that overall, NT will bring benefits in terms of lower cost of ownership and easier system management. Happily for Tandem, which recently demonstrated its ‘two ton’ clustered 64 processor system in San Francisco (CI No 3,162), 64% of the consultants and analysts surveyed, said they saw clustering as very important for the success of NT in high- end systems. Both the survey and Tandem were somewhat vague about if, and when, mainframe applications would be migrated to NT, especially the sort of back-end, huge transaction processing applications such as those run by banks for daily bank account updates. To counter Ms Attal’s point about NT not scaling, Tandem quotes the ‘two ton’ demonstration, in which it ran queries on a 2Tb database, over its 16 by four processor system. But the fact remains that this system is not out there yet, nor is it being used every day by thousands of users to run mission critical, transaction processing systems. The survey’s findings suggest that NT’s status in the minds of those that will influence decisions is certainly growing, and that over the next five years we will see an increasing place for NT in high end enterprise systems. The question for many companies, Tandem included, is whether they will be in the right place when that happens.