Compaq, Unisys to offer Windows NT on SEWP II pact
- By Heather Harreld
- Nov 03, 1996
The follow-on to NASA's popular Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP) will offer government buyers more choices and could pit traditional Unix workstation offerings against Microsoft Corp. Windows NT-based workstations.
Of the three vendors NASA selected in early October to provide general-purpose workstations under the $1.8 billion SEWP II program only Digital Equipment Corp. will be offering traditional Unix workstations. The other general-purpose workstation vendors Compaq Computer Corp. and Unisys Corp. plan to offer products that support both Windows NT and Unix. The Compaq and Unisys workstations are based upon Intel Corp.'s 200 MHz Pentium Pro processors which some analysts see as a threat to a market segment currently dominated by reduced instruction set computing (RISC)-based workstations.
Open to the entire government SEWP II will provide up to 34 000 workstations peripherals and networking gear. The pact is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt Md.
On SEWP II Compaq originally bid its ProLiant 1500 network server running Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating system a Unix variant. But the company has proposed adding its newly unveiled Compaq Professional Workstation which supports both Windows NT and Unix. Compaq also hopes to add its ProLiant 2500 server which was announced last month. The ProLiant 2500 supports both Unix and Windows NT and is designed to boost performance for ProLiant 1500 users.
Also on SEWP II Compaq bid its Deskpro LX6150 the Intel Pentium Pro-based desktop as well as its ProLiant 5000 server.
Industry watchers have said NASA officials encouraged vendors to aggressively refresh workstation offerings under SEWP II. Gary Newgaard Compaq's director of federal sales and marketing said the company would be working closely with NASA to continuously update its offerings to reflect the latest technology. "We're going to keep pace with our product offering [and] very aggressively promote the technology that is available " he said.
Compaq's Professional Workstation is a prime example. This new system introduced last week is designed to compete with Unix-based workstations in areas such as computer-aided design and software engineering. As part of its push into this market Compaq has teamed with application providers such as Bentley Systems Inc. AutoDesk Inc. and Kinetics Inc.
The company believes its new workstation based upon the 200 MHz Pentium Pro poses a serious threat to the RISC/Unix solution. "We are coming in with a performance story at a price point that will enable federal customers to give a second look at a Compaq/Intel/Windows NT or Solaris solution " Newgaard said.
Unisys the only systems integrator of the three workstation winners will be providing Intel Aurora 155 MHz Pentium Pro and Intel Extended Express 200 MHz Pentium Pro servers under SEWP II. Both products run Windows NT and Solaris.
Joseph Santamaria vice president and general manager of information technologies for Unisys' Federal Systems Division said the company will be offering a greater variety of products in its configuration."People are going to find [that] these new high-end Intel systems will operate very favorably against the RISC systems " Santamaria said. "People will be very pleased with the processing power of these high-end machines."
Santamaria said Unisys would be able to compete very favorably because it has extensive experience integrating Windows NT for the federal government market. In fact because of that growing interest in both the public and private sectors Unisys is launching a business unit in 1997 to focus on transitioning users from Unix to Windows NT. That unit will focus on commercial and government users Santamaria said.
These ventures into the Windows NT workstation arena may prove to be a voyage into a booming marketplace. According to International Data Corp. forecasts the Windows NT workstation market will grow at an average rate of 44 percent a year through the Year 2000 and Windows NT workstations will outship Unix workstations in 1997.
Compaq and Unisys will be competing against Digital which will be marketing its 64-bit Unix-based AlphaStation products under SEWP II. Digital will offer its high-end AlphaStation 500/266 and entry-level AlphaStation 255/300 and its full line of AlphaServers including the 1000 2100 4100 and 8000 series.Tom Wolf Digital's SEWP II program manager said SEWP II is the first major federal contract let since the major players began taking incremental pieces of faster 64-bit technology to market. Still he said Digital is the only company to provide the "total picture" for 64-bit computing.
"Against the HPs Suns and IBMs we have a pretty good leg up in getting the 64-bit strategy to market " Wolf said. "Sixty-four-bit computing is not new to Digital. We've been doing it for years. We're continually coming out with faster cheaper better products in the Alpha line."
- John Stein Monroe contributed to this article.