Magazine article Editor & Publisher

SII Discusses Tandem Sale

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

SII Discusses Tandem Sale

Article excerpt

By the last day at Nexpo, the world's biggest PC maker had announced it would buy the maker of machines that for years have powered editorial and classified advertising departments at some of the world's biggest newspapers.

Houston-based Compaq Computers, which holds about 10% of the U.S. market for PCs, will acquire Tandem Computers, Cupertino, Calif., in a stock deal valued at $3 billion.

In the early 1980s, Sacramento-based System Integrators Inc. began using tandem mainframes as host computers for its publishing systems, supplying not only processing power adequate to handle the high volume of daily newspaper information at high speed, but also the "fault-tolerant" performance that protected against catastrophic crashes.

As networked PCs running Coyote software replace proprietary SII Coyote terminals on users' desks, Tandem continues to supply SII (in which it once held a stake) with CPU upgrades -- while most other vendors adopted Unix- or, more recently, Windows-based servers for their publishing systems. SII's latest System/77 relies on a powerful new chip and Tandem's ServerNet architecture (E&P, Sept. 28, 1996, p. 24).

Soon, however, hardware and operating system software for SII customers' client workstations and servers may come from the same company.

"It's like we're on a standard platform now," said SII spokesman Kirk Norlin. "We think it's great. It validates Tandem as a viable platform for enterprise computing."

Tandem's "NonStop" machines have typically been called upon for online transaction processing (e.g., banking, state lotteries) and operating in other environments characterized by constant changes to large databases.

Norlin noted that Tandem and Compaq are not strangers, and said their joining makes even more sense now that tandem is working with Microsoft, notably in its Wolfpack technology -- a multiprocessor-server approach in which Compaq has worked on a smaller scale. Tandem brings its added horsepower and crash-resistance.

A month before last year's Nexpo, Tandem said its machines would be made compatible with Microsoft NT -- potentially bringing NT up-market while making tandem an attractive option in the wider market for servers in relatively smaller networks. Tandem was adapting its ServerNet cluster interconnect technology to put fail-over capability in Microsoft's NT Server. …

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