The move towards virtualisation gathers apace, now it's mainframe vendor Unisys with its take on the technology.

The company has introduced sPar – secure partitioning – a form of virtualisation that splits the hardware into different partitions. Each of these partitions is the equivalent of a separate server, with its own processors, memory and I/O channels, and is under the direct control of the ClearPath operating system. Communications among all components occur at memory speed – faster than they would over conventional network connections. Unisys is also complementing this launch with the release of a couple of new mainframe models.

In many ways, this is getting back to basics for virtualisation as the technology originally started as a mainframe technology but according to David Howard, Unisys's director of IT automation, there's a bit of a twist. "The driver around sPar is the reverse of what's happening with VMWare. Mainframes are very expensive and you want to make them work to maximum efficiency. VMware comes from another area – servers are very cheap, in fact they're too cheap, making it easier to pile them up."

Howard said that the aim of sPar then was to keep the mainframe working at maximum efficiency, "What we're doing with the Clearpath virtualisation is that we're taking that a little bit further. We're introducing a range of specialty engines to meet with the fact that the world has changed. It's not just a question of mainframes, there's a need to deal with encryption and Java for example."

The Unisys strategy is therefore to use the speciality engines for specialised situations such as these. These specialty engines are not particularly new but the sPar take on them has them connected direct to the mainframes. "Now it's a question of going to a console and talking through the memory queues," said Howard.

The technology will give a new lease of life to mainframe technology said Howard. "Why people continue to use mainframes is that and capacity to process huge amounts of data. With these speciality engines – you have the linkage with the modern world and the high-speed connectivity. It's a good fit with server virtualisation," he added.

Unisys has also announced the addition of two mid-range Intel processor-based models to the ClearPath Libra and Dorado families: the sPar-enabled Libra 4100 Series and the Dorado 4100 Series.