Mainframe Computing: Not Sexy, But Essential to US DoD IT
While it might be more thrilling to imagine US Special Operations Forces getting critical intelligence about enemy movements through a laptop computer in the field, the bread and butter of US Department of Defense IT are mainframe computers. They have the computing power necessary to process the huge amount of information generated by the sprawling DoD bureaucracy.
One of the major suppliers of mainframe computers to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is Unisys. Since 1983, Unisys has been providing mainframe computer capacity for US Air Force logistics through DISA, the DoD agency that provides command, control and computing capabilities to the US services, other DoD agencies, and coalition partners.
On Feb 3/10, Unisys announced that it received a renewal of its contract to provide mainframe computer processing capacity and support services to DISA in support of USAF logistics and Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) financial activities. The contract is worth an estimated $187 million over 5 years.
Under the contract, Unisys will provide mainframe processing capacity and support services for DISA’s ClearPath mainframe environment. The company will also upgrade DISA’s mainframe and storage environment, including installation of a virtual tape library.
Unisys will be providing the mainframe processing capability through its ClearPath Dorado 700 Server Series, [pdf] which is designed for transaction processing environments requiring high security. Through metering – a pay-for-use systems software licensing capability – DoD clients can maximize system capacity during peaks and minimize costs when usage is low. This allows them to pay only for the amount of processing power they use as they use it.