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Has ICL Lost the Plot With NT plans?

ICL Plc has slipped further into bed with Microsoft Corp and unveiled its NT Enterprise strategy, but some in the industry question whether ICL has lost more than it gained by making NT its preferred platform. In its white paper, "Scaling Windows NT for the enterprise." ICL claims that the experience its staff gained implementing mainframe and Unix-based enterprise will now be transferred to developing scalable and reliable large NT systems.

Peter Slavid, business strategy manager at ICL, says that the industry needs to step back from product types and go back to business basics. He claims that the link-up with Microsoft came about because ICL is one of Europe's largest IT services and has the background of "proven enterprise skills" to develop NT systems for large scale applications. It says that the archiving, back-up, systems management and failure knowledge that ICL brought to its OpenVME mainframe operating system can now be brought to NT.

Slavid dismisses suggestions that companies looking to implement NT on a wide basis may wish to hold on for Windows 2000. He claims that it is "absolutely wrong... when you're building these kinds of systems new technology is the last thing you want." He allows that Windows 2000 will bring some features - such as data mirroring, better clustering and more addressable memory space - which will make the next cut of NT easier to live with in the enterprise environment. However, Slavid says that that ICL can build enterprise systems based on NT for customers now. One of the sample architectures ICL laid out involved using a three-tier system with a layer of Intel-based servers attached to a server and storage disk layer. Slavid said that these kind of systems would enable companies to standardize on one operating system for the entire company, which, he said, could lead to cost benefits.

However, Bruno Beloff, an analyst on the Client-Server Tools Bulletin, said that ICL's claims for NT's use in the enterprise were exaggerated. "The feedback I'm having is that people don't want it for serious systems," said Beloff. He also questioned why ICL had dropped its mainframe and Unix expertise in favor of NT, "there is a niche for NT but it's not where ICL is. It doesn't add up," he concluded.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 13, 1999
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