Unisys tries to span clicks and mortar

Using a bricks-and-mortar setting of an old bank as a backdrop, Unisys this week introduced a comprehensive set of end-to-end services and applications designed to help organisations dive headlong into the emerging business-to-business e-commerce space.

The announcement, which was made in the marble-tiled lobby of the former Bowery Savings Bank, includes a set of 60 new services, vertical industry-oriented applications and network plumbing devices.

Even though Unisys "is a little late'' to the business-to-business e-commerce space, as one Wall Street analyst put it, the company's focus on delivering Windows-based products and services is right on target with many customers who were in attendance.

For example, one of the key products Unisys introduced is a Windows- and Intel-based data-centre server that can be partitioned to support back-office processing, post front-end applications and support a variety of operating environments at once, including Windows NT and Unix.

That type of multiserver in a box appeals to customers like Sachi Shankar, director of application development at Liberty Travel. The New Jersey-based travel service, which is planning to put its reservations system online, is also "looking for additional channels to market our services, and we think there could be a real fit with Unisys", said Shankar. He said that the new Unisys products and services could help the company extend its travel services online.

Although Unisys introduced a set of vertical industry applications -- including application service provider (ASP) offerings for community publishers -- it was the dynamic partitioning of its ES7000 machine that captured most of the customer interest.

"It's great to see a Wintel machine that can perform like a mainframe but at a fraction of the price,'' said John Hickey, chief technology officer at Nasdaq Stock Market in Connecticut.

Users also said they are impressed by Unisys' vertical industry knowledge. "They really understand our environment and the nature of being a government agency,'' said Tony West, manager, special projects, at the Land Transport Safety Authority in New Zealand.

West said he was interested in exploring e-commerce work with Unisys that would touch on his organisation's use of an EDI-type vehicle registration system.

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