About the time the Burroughs B5000 was launched, the United States was beginning the decade long effort to land a man on the Moon. In the 10 years or so it took for US Space Program to attain that goal the initial B5000 design had evolved through products such as the B5500, B6500 and B6700. It took that time to take the initial system design, implement it, refine it and perfect it. If you work for me, you may hear me say things like “this isn’t rocket science”, and “we aren’t going to the moon” … phrases I use to set expectations regarding complexity and level of difficulty. Well, while generally true, the efforts to deliver ClearPath NextGen are “rocket science” and are the engineering equivalent of “going to the moon” for the ClearPath development teams. The ClearPath systems launched this week, the Dorado 4100 and the Libra 4100, represent the foundation for the next 50 years of ClearPath computing. What makes them significant is not that they are new, but that they are a contemporary interpretation that is true to the architecture of the systems that preceded them. Compatibility is one of the guiding principles of ClearPath engineering … Do you think the guiding principles of the ClearPath teams are still important?
Designing and building commercial computer systems is my life’s work. While I won’t be as famous as Bob Barton who conceived the B5000, I’d like to think that the contributions of the current Libra engineering team are as significant as Jack Alweiss’s B5900, John McClintock’s A9 or the work done to transparently transform the MCP architecture in the 1980s. Today’s ClearPath engineering teams owe a lot to those that came before them, the two architectures, OS 2200 and MCP, are rich and robust and the teams are ever mindful of the architecture of the systems they are responsible for, never forgetting that they are both stewards and trailblazers at the same time.
While implementing new, compatible computer systems is “what we do”, doing so with one eye on compatibility and the other on new emerging technologies can be difficult. When one undertakes wholesale replacement of major subsystem’s proprietary hardware designs with commercially available components it becomes harder still, especially given the context of functional compatibility. Both product lines are on a path to do just that. In this week’s announcement the Libra 4100 represents what I think is the most significant advance on the Libra side in twenty five years. The 4100 embodies an entirely new machine … a completely new, state of the art IO subsystem, a completely new, state of the art soft processor, a new and unique secure partitioning platform all deployed on the most advanced hardware available in the industry.
On one hand it’s no big deal, I mean it’s just another set of systems, something that’s quite predictable … we do introduce new ClearPath systems every year. On the other hand it is a tipping point, the foundation for what comes next. These systems prove that we can continue to deliver the ClearPath computing experience for years to come, adapting to changes in technology while at the same time being true to our heritage. When the Libra 4100 leaves the factory at the end of the month, it will be the most reliable Libra system ever released. Personally I find it amazing, it’s an entirely new system, no element having been previously released as part of a predecessor system, yet it behaves just as our customers expect … running the same workloads and delivering the same ClearPath experience they have come to depend on.
I’ve told all that will listen that we will make more significant changes in the next three years to ClearPath than the last twenty years, and we will do it without missing a beat … each deliverable will advance the architecture a little further while maintaining the guiding principles of compatibility, reliability, scalability, security and availability … the things that make ClearPath ClearPath. If we do it correctly you will hardly notice, and that would be the point. These are the principles that have guided and continue to guide us … the real question is: Are they still important?”