Unisys Scales New Heights with Windows 2000

In the most impressive demonstration to date of Windows 2000's (Win2K's) scalability, Unisys and a consortium of industry partners created a massive Web site for a hypothetical e-commerce company at Comdex. Labeled the "Data Center of the New Millennium," this technology demonstration ran 4000 transactions per second or more than 3 billion Web hits and 300 million page requests per day. Unisys modeled the application to provide a realistic business application and a metric for the amount of e-commerce business that this fictitious company could achieve. In current terms, this Web site could serve the current Christmas e-commerce needs of the entire world times 30. Based on current average Web e-commerce transactions, the site could accommodate $187 billion per year of transactions, or the equivalent of all the world's current e-commerce. Windows NT has had trouble capturing the largest of the world's Web sites, and this technology demonstration was a dramatic project meant to prove that Win2K is ready for prime time in the data center. Unisys and its partners also made the point that this project, with an estimated cost of about $12 million in hardware and software, was of mainframe class. At a press conference to introduce the project, Laurence Weinbach, CEO of Unisys; Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft; and Mike Ruettgers, CEO of EMC Corporation described their support for an industry alliance of partners who will work together to bring Win2K Server into the data center. Project partners included Cisco, Intel, Mercury Interactive, NetIQ, QLogic, and StorageTek. Weinbach said that Unisys and its partners put the project together to prove, "We can do it in prime time with NT, faster and cheaper than anyone else." Ballmer estimated that the group achieved the project results for between 1/5 and 1/3 the cost of a similar project done in a UNIX RISC environment, although he didn't detail exact costs. Interestingly, Ruettgers said "EMC had predicted 2 1/2 years ago that Windows NT would supplant UNIX in the data center within 2 years." Although the late release of Win2K Server into the market had altered the timeline, EMC still stood behind this prediction. It's stunning to think that although the Win2K data center project began in June as a drawing on a napkin between engineers of the companies involved, the group completed the project by early November. To create the data center, Unisys used almost 40 percent of its monthly production of 4-way and 8-way servers. The project uses 20 front-end Web servers running Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), 20 servers running COM+ transactions, and two 8-way servers clustered to run a 2TB SQL Server 7.0 database in a passive/active arrangement. All the interconnect technology was Giganet cLAN interconnect, with the exception of a fibre-channel connection to the EMC 3830 Symmetrix storage system. Instances of SQL Server were loaded on the COM+ servers to aid in I/O performance. In total, the Unisys data center project used 52 servers. Unisys plans to publish an architectural white paper on the project on its Web site within the next few weeks. It's important to note that Unisys completed this project using Win2K Advanced Server (Win2K AS) and not Win2K Datacenter Server, which is in an earlier form of development. Only two 8-way servers in the data center were running Win2K Datacenter Server, demonstrating Windows Terminal Services (WTS) running on a couple of 8-way systems. One of those 8-way machines ran Microsoft Office on WTS, and the second 8-way created a client load against the WTS server. In benchmarks using scripts that Unisys created, the 8-way WTS server ran between 230 and 300 active client connections. Although it’s not likely that most companies will abandon their legacy equipment to install a data center of this type, many brick and mortar companies that are setting up their Web interface and making major purchasing decisions will want to take a look at this demonstration. One Microsoft VP told me that several countries are considering moving their entire social services operations onto the Web, and this project will resonate with those types of customers. Numerous potential data center customers flew in from around the world specifically to view this technology demonstration.

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