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SCO gains ground in clustering

Santa Cruz Operation may gain the upper hand in Intel-based clustering software with the announcement of a deal with Compaq and Tandem Computers.

The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) may gain the upper hand in Intel-based clustering software next week with the announcement of a deal with Compaq Computer subsidiary Tandem Computers.

While Microsoft and its partners continue to struggle to move beyond a simple failover clustering system that involves two computers for its Windows NT operating system, SCO will deliver a set of clustering technologies for UnixWare this quarter tailored for Tandem's ServerNet hardware interconnect that allows up to six multiprocessor machines to function in a cluster as a single system. The technology is often referred to as "single system image."

By using several computers as one, administrators can view the cluster as a single entity, applications can run across several systems, if necessary, and users can access information regardless of its location within the cluster. "This has pulled us several years ahead," claimed Tamar Newberger, director of product management for SCO.

News of the Compaq deal comes in the aftermath of a recent management shakeup and subsequent announcement that upcoming third quarter earnings would come in far below expectations.

The technology--to be called UnixWare NonStop Clusters-- is being jointly developed by SCO, Compaq, and Tandem for use in SCO's latest version of UnixWare (7.0), the leading server-based Unix variant for Intel-based systems. Further enhancements will extend the reach of the clustering software to 32 systems by the year 2000, according to Newberger.

SCO executives said they will work to port its clustering software to other interconnects besides ServerNet.

The availability of the clustering option for UnixWare may fill the breach before the operating system can take advantage of the Merced chip, now delayed until the year 2000 by Intel, to extend its reach to larger corporate organizations. The company said the delay will not end up hurting SCO: "I think there's pros and cons and overall it's about neutral," Ray Anderson, senior vice president of marketing, said.

SCO has captured the lion's share of the Unix-on-Intel market by catering to volume sales. SCO executives said that Compaq will sell approximately 100,000 server systems running SCO this year.