Fujitsu release aims to improve mid-range mainframe reliability

Fujitsu Siemens Computers is aiming to boost mid-range mainframe reliability with the introduction of the SX150 business server,...

Fujitsu Siemens Computers is aiming to boost mid-range mainframe reliability with the introduction of the SX150 business server, which will be formally launched at the CeBIT 2005 trade show this month.

The server features technology that can dynamically reallocate processor and software resources and reduce system downtime, the company said. Although IBM and Sun products boast similar functionality, Fujitsu Siemens said its Dynamic Reconfiguration (DR) options let users shift resources between Fujitsu's BS2000 operating system and Sun Solaris.

The SX150 is based on Sun's Sparc64 V chip and supports BS2000/OSD and Solaris operating systems running in parallel in separate hardware partitions.

Pricing for the SX150 varies greatly, but starts at about £138,000. It will compete with mainframes that perform at between 60mips and 650mips.

Fujitsu Siemens said the machine would appeal to mid-tier enterprises (1,000 to 1,500 staff) seeking to consolidate servers, integrate business-critical applications into e-business applications or gain more capacity.

Phil Payne, principal at Isham Research, said the dual operating system feature is unique among its class of servers, offering BS2000 users a migration path to Sun Solaris.

BS2000 is mainly used for mainframe legacy applications in Western Europe, Benelux and Nordic countries. The Police National Computer is a rare instance of its use in the UK. The PNC runs BS2000 on a Siemens S-150 mainframe, said Payne.

The SX150 resilience technology, DR, is a combination of hardware and software features working together, said Walter Franck, Fujitsu Siemens' product marketing manager. "The main advantage of DR is that it avoids the need for an additional system reboot after hardware failure and repair," he said.

DR uses extended partitioning to create flexible sections that can adapt to changing load requirements. Each extended partition has its own instance of an operating system - BS2000 or Solaris - and behaves like a separate computer.

These can be operated in parallel on a single SX150. This allows boards to be switched on and off within partitions and disconnected and reconnected online during operation, which results in low system downtime.

Josh Krischer, vice-president, research, servers and storage EMEA at analyst firm Gartner, said, "The new features give more flexibility to existing customers. They can change the configuration by adding or removing system boards during operation." He added that it is possible to do this with some IBM and other mainframes.

To make the most of DR, Fujitsu advised users to allow for adequate redundancy, a concept reminiscent of IBM's capacity on demand, where users incorporate processors and other resources that are only activated and paid for when required.

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