UNIX is important stuff in communications: Indeed, in all sorts of applications that require high reliability, scaleability, and realtime performance. UNIX was (in only somewhat metaphoric terms) the university thattrained a generation of programmers in realtime kernel techniques, multitasking/multiprocessing, and interprocess communication. It was the crucible that forged development of Internet technologies and object-oriented programming languages such as C++ and Java.
Today even in the wake of the enormously-rapid uptake of Windows NT throughout the networking and CT space UNIX is stronger than ever; far from the dead language its detractors portray. The community of developers devoted
to various forms of UNIX (now including Linux) continues to grow. That community continues to stretch the envelope of computing and communications technology. Equally important, it continues to incubate and nurture technology development, workstyle, and business models that are destined to thrive in the wired economy; and perhaps, ultimately, to dominate important parts of it.
This article is focused on the UNIX market leader,
The Santa Cruz Operation
Cruz, CA 800-726-8649). Much of the research for it was done at SCO Forum, SCOs popular conference, held this past August in Santa Cruz, CA.
Since December, 1995, SCO has been the owner of the UNIX source code. SCO OpenServer 5 and the SCO UnixWare 7 operating systems have long been an excellent reliable platform for CT and IP telephony applications. SCOs Intel-based UNIX systems have been effectively and quietly making money and market share. According to their own research, SCOs
operating systems sales represent 80% of all UNIX servers shipped (by volume), and 41% of the total UNIX market share (other players include Sun 18%, HP 11%, other RISC UNIX 9%, other Intel UNIX 10%, IBM on PowerPC 11%). They say this market share will increase to 52% when IBM adopts SCO UnixWare 7 over its AIX product line in Project Monterey. (See below.) SCO UnixWare has been the fastest-growing commercial OS platform, at 59% in 1998. SCO is the third-largest OS Server vendor in the world.
been in the UNIX marketplace for 20 years longer than most of its competitors. In todays world of Internet-based public offerings, a technology stock such as SCO that is making money and increasing shareholder value is a rare gem indeed. SCOs Q4 99 revenue grew 30% over the same quarter last year; earnings grew 100%. SCOs share price has grown in tandem increasing sevenfold in little over 13 months.
SO WHAT IS SCO DOING RIGHT?
As noted, since December, 1995,
SCO has been the owner of the UNIX source code and technology. The UNIX trademark is held by the Open Group to ensure that standards remain vendor-independent, and product quality meets UNIX trade requirements. SCO has worked hard in developing their operating system products and led the charge in development of UNIX technology. A major new UNIX System Release Version 5 (SRV5) was released and embodied in SCO UnixWare 7 in 1998. The operating system has been developed to support both 32- and 64-bit Intel
processing. Today, single multiprocessor systems with high-end Pentium CPUs can scale to support full data center functionality.
In late 98, IBM decided to merge features of their AIX platform into a new release of SCO UnixWare calling the initiative Project Monterey. This means that IBM will be selling SCO UnixWare instead of its AIX product lines. IBM purchased Sequent, thus gaining access to its well-known, high availability UNIX kernel technology. This
will be an important addition to Project Monterey. Of late, many other manufacturers have endorsed or are actively involved with Project Monterey, including Compaq, Samsung, and others. The first early shipments of the new version of the operating system are scheduled for late 2000. The new version will support Intel and IBMs PowerPC RISC processors.
SCO UnixWare 7 Non-Stop Clustering
SCO announced the shipping of SCO UnixWare 7 Non-Stop Clustering with Compaq at SCO Forum in August.
Using either Siemens or Compaq servers or rackmount systems, which are connected by high-speed data cables, it is possible to provide extremely high fault tolerance using off-the-shelf computer systems. Take a computer in the cluster off-line, and the other computers in the cluster take over the user does not see any change in application availability, and performance degrades only in linear (not catastrophic) fashion.
This technology originates from Compaqs acquisition of Tandem Computers
famous Non-Stop Himalayan technology often used in extremely high-availability applications such as aircraft traffic control, banks, and stock exchanges. Its now available on Intel platforms for the first time, using SCO UnixWare 7 Non-Stop Clusters. Major achievements of this product are:
Single System Image.
No matter how many systems are in the cluster (the current release limit is 16 systems), system administration and commands are executed as though there is only one computer
with one copy of the operating system. There have been slight adjustments to process table reporting, but these are minor. This eliminates some learning curve for system administrators.
Existing applications can take advantage of the environment immediately, without recompiles.
If the system administrator wants, they can write UNIX scripts to enhance application performance and system administration reporting, but these scripts are not necessary. Installation of the Non-Stop Cluster product involves
the purchase of the license and CD load the latter, and the kernel is relinked to incorporate the Non-Stop Cluster functionality.
Introductory licensing for this new extension of the system essentially mitigated the base SCO UnixWare 7 license price.
Even though UNIX-based IP telephony and CT applications have enjoyed high reliability of the operating system, SCO UnixWare 7 Non-Stop Cluster technology provides a competitive edge for telecom and mission critical environments
in carrier and call center environments. The only weakness in the environment is that UnixWare 7 wont support compactPCI hot-swap capabilities until mid-2000. When this support is provided, then CT and IP telephony systems on SCO UnixWare 7 Non-Stop Clusters can compete well against comparable products using VME-based technology. Currently, it seems that Natural Microsystems is leading the charge for support of compactPCI on Sun Microsystems Solaris SPARC platforms with their announcement and
demonstration of support of the AG Quad T-1 based compactPCI at last years VON. It is a matter of time before SCO finishes building support for the driver into the UnixWare 7 kernel.