Good ship DG once more under way

The good ship Data General, all but dead in the water for the better part of a decade, is starting to make headway.

Last October, the Massachusetts-based company quelled user dissent by introducing a line of Intel-based Aviion servers. Now the company has racked up three profitable quarters in a row and has seen its stock more than double in value.

To keep local users in the picture, Dave Ellenberger, DG's vice-president of marketing, has been in the country this month. Ellenberger says by mid-year DG plans to ship servers sporting four-processor Pentium Pro motherboards from Intel and it will use a technique called NUMA (non-uniform memory access architecture) to link multiple motherboards in a symmetrical multiprocessing server by year's end.

In the latest quarter, Data General sales grew by 18%, with Intel-based Aviions winning 15% of total server sales. The other growth area for DG is its Clariion line of RAID storage systems, which accounts for 40% of revenue. It's been a dramatic turnaround for a company that has lost money in nine of the past 10 years.

"We went from being proprietary to open systems but on the Motorola 88000 series chip," says Ellenberger. "But then Motorola stopped investing in the chip, so we announced our plans to move to Intel and introduced the new servers in October. Ever since we've announced Intel, we've had profitable quarters."

Ellenberger says moving to the Intel platform has given Data General customers a choice between Windows NT and Unix.

"In the US there has been a rapid adoption of NT in the last three to four months and now some companies are trying to do high-end things with it. NT is synonymous with Intel. The problem with the Alpha or Sparc chip is getting applications to run. A third of Intel Aviions have been sold with NT."

On the Unix side, Data General is working with Santa Cruz Operation, which last year bought UnixWare from Novell.

"DG expects to be on of SCO's key partners in bringing NUMA to UnixWare and we expect to deliver those products by end of the calendar year."

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