the Pipeline

Big Iron Rolls On

Big iron dominates the current crop of new releases: mainframes, software to empower clusters to act as mainframes and a high-end server with "frame" in its name. Once thought of as dinosaurs, mainframes have regained popularity and a few steps on the evolutionary chart.

Unisys Corp. of Blue Bell, Pa., has rolled out its ClearPath Plus Libra 185 mainframe system. The company is adding support for an increasing number of standards — including Microsoft Corp. .NET; Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition; and Web services protocols — to its ClearPath family, which includes mainframe and software development tools. Libra 185 also boasts a 400 percent increase in overall system capacity over previous models and eight processor partitions instead of two.

The system can have up to 32 CMOS processors, 24 Intel Corp. Xeon processors and 64G of memory. Its U.S. retail price ranges from $1.1 million to $22.4 million.

Qlusters Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., introduced its ClusterFrame 1.6 software that "makes a cluster of commodity servers act a like a mainframe," according to the company's chief executive officer, Ofer Shoshan.

The company is targeting organizations running Linux servers on Intel 32-bit architecture, touting the relatively low cost of commodity hardware, when compared to mainframes and supercomputers. ClusterFrame also features Xtreme HA, which, despite the name, is not a late-night comedy show on cable. It stands for extreme high availability and provides instant failover. If a server fails, another one takes over immediately, so the user loses no data and tasks run uninterrupted.

In Nampa, Idaho, MPC Computers LLC unveiled the NetFrame 600 server, incorporating Serial Advanced Technology Attachment capabilities. ATA, also called Integrated Drive Electronics, has long been the dominant hard drive technology for PCs. It is beginning to appear in the enterprise market, where its low cost — compared to SCSI and Fibre Channel — makes it an attractive option.

MPC is offering users a choice of Serial ATA (priced under $1,500) or SCSI (with a higher price tag). The NetFrame 600 also features twin Xeon processors, up to 8G of memory, five hard-drive bays, an integrated dual Ethernet Network Interface Card and five PCI slots.

Hello? Hello?

Comarco Wireless Test Solutions, based in Irvine, Calif., launched a dual-purpose test system for wired and wireless networks, including wireless phone service. Called Seven.Five Duo, the system is lightweight, portable and battery powered.

The product's key element is a multiband, multitechnology radio frequency scanner that can scan more than 3,000 channels per second and perform several types of decoding simultaneously. Seven.Five Duo, which starts at around $18,000, is designed to speed network deployment and optimization, as well as benchmark the wireless infrastructure. The system boasts an array of real-time monitors for in-the-field analysis, including moving maps and voice alerts to pinpoint problems.

York Telecom Corp. has released C-CureWare, a secure network solution designed specifically for videoconferencing. Officials at the Eatontown, N.J., company say the certified and approved Type 1 security solution offers secure on-screen dialing, an A/B switch to enable secure/ nonsecure switching for multilevel security situations and a clearly recognizable lighted signal to indicate secure/nonsecure call status.

York drew on its experience in developing solutions for federal agencies to make the C-CureWare product. It creates a reliable, encrypted, dedicated network to protect sensitive information.

Microsoft and a Smattering of Software

Microsoft officials say upcoming versions of its VisualStudio.NET will feature stronger debugging tools and better integration with Microsoft Office. Upcoming releases of the .NET Framework will enable existing .NET users to benefit from support for 64-bit processors, advances in security and administration, and improvements in performance and scalability — all without changing their code.

The company is talking up the improvements now so that its customers and developers know what to expect. Microsoft has code-named the upcoming family of new versions "Whidbey," which is the name of an island in Puget Sound.

Argentum Corp. released Coolbase 2.3, database software that stores any kind of information, such as text, numbers, Web links and images. Officials at the Issaquah, Wash., firm say the software allows users to organize data, build complex structures, attach descriptions and publish information on the Web.

TransDigital Solutions Inc. of Lexington, Ky., is about to begin beta testing Version 2.0 of its authentication software, InfoKeep. The software stores user passwords and sensitive information in an encrypted file, allowing users to look up the information as needed while keeping it unreadable to hackers.

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