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Unisys releases its ClearPath MCP OS for VMs or x86

End of a long era as mainframe-sourced OSes will no longer require companion hardware

Unisys has announced that its ClearPath MCP “operating environment” can now be run without having to also buy Unisys hardware. The company also plans to do the same for its OS 2200 product.

ClearPath MCP is the heir to the mainframe hardware and operating systems Unisys inherited from Burroughs. The OS had run on x86 for years on Unisys' Libra line of servers but was never sold alone. The company's other “parent” was Sperry, which gave the world the OS2200 operating system that ran on hardware branded “Dorado” that Unisys finally moved to an x86 architecture in 2015.

Now the company is going even further into the commodity hardware caper, allowing ClearPath MCP to be sold without a Libra system, either virtualised under VMware's ESXi or run up on x86 boxen using a reference architecture.

Unisys is pitching its new policy as a way for ClearPath users to keep using the OS, and the code they created to run on it, while also taking advantage of commodity servers. The company plans to make the same offer to OS 2200 users “at a later date.”

It's not hard to see why Unisys has made this decision: its hardware sales have halved in recent times, marking servers as a business it can perhaps do without. Virtual and standalone ClearPath and OS 2200 give the company a chance to keep the operating systems alive while giving customers a roadmap that encourages them to keep using Unisys rather than contemplating a move to another environment.

The decision also gives Unisys a route out of the hardware business and who could blame it if it chooses that path: niche server manufacturing is a tough, tough, gig, that Unisys is almost alone in persevering.

Some, however, will find today's news a little sad, as it marks a break with a sometimes-glorious past.

Unisys will offer ClearPath MCP in a “Bronze” edition offering concurrent-user-based licensing intended for light production work, or test and dev. A “Silver” edition offers “capacity-based licensing determined by the maximum number of MCP central processing modules available for activation.” Licences tailored to general purpose use, the Unisys Agile Business Suite model-driven development environment, business continuity and disaster recovery will be offered. ®

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