Microsoft, Fujitsu Form Mainframe Friendship

Fujitsu and Microsoft have announced a collaborative agreement to develop Fujitsu’s next-generation, Itanium-based server, which will be optimized for Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 and next-gen Longhorn server.

The deal — a new Memorandum of Understanding announced in Japan that builds on the two companies’ existing partnership — gives Fujitsu access to a larger Windows audience and takes Microsoft to a market of mission-critical mainframe computing where it is not represented now.

The companies announced that they will combine Fujitsu’s mainframe expertise and systems with Microsoft’s latest Server 2003 and .Net software for high-end enterprise infrastructure and applications.

The companies also will bolster support for their customers by forming a joint engineering support team at Microsoft’s Global Escalation Center in Redmond, Washington. That group, to be established in the second half of this year, will work closely with the Windows Server development team, use support tools from both companies and focus on faster identification and resolution of issues, the companies said.

Mainframe Move

Fujitsu and Microsoft said the collaboration on Intel Itanium-based, mainframe-class computers would include the following:

  • collaboration on Fujitsu’s next-gen server optimized for Windows Server 2003 and Longhorn Server, expected first half of next year,
  • integration of Microsoft’s .Net platform software into Fujitsu’s Triole for flexibility,
  • establishment of the joint engineering team,
  • collaboration in software development to improve interoperability between the two companies’ software, and
  • extension of Fujitsu tools to help customers move mission-critical infrastructure and applications to .Net.

“By combining Fujitsu’s platform products and integration expertise with existing Windows assets, this expanded collaboration makes it possible to offer Windows-based systems with the most advanced level of mainframe-class reliability to customers who demand maximum system availability for their mission-critical systems,” said Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer in a statement.

Friends Like Fujitsu

Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio said that despite lackluster results thus far, Microsoft would like to move into higher-performance computing markets where it is far from being as dominant as it is on the desktop.

“Clearly, Microsoft would like to move up the stack, and, so far, they haven’t been wildly successful in the datacenter,” DiDio told TechNewsWorld.

DiDio said Microsoft also needs partners such as Fujitsu to compete in foreign and global markets.

“If you’re going into the Pacific Rim Asia-Pacific market, you need a partner,” she said. “Microsoft is not a hardware company. Having partners and friends like Fujitsu helps. Microsoft has been extremely aggressive in partnering with telcos and in hardware.”

A Lot To Teach

Gartner research director Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld that the deeper partnership between Fujitsu and Microsoft might give Microsoft the knowledge it needs to grow in the highly reliable, highly scalable world of high-performance computing.

“Fujitsu could teach Microsoft a lot about writing code in this area,” Reynolds said.

As for Fujitsu, the Japanese giant is taking its hardware expertise and products, and putting them in a Microsoft environment. The challenge lies in the production of a Server 2003 or Longhorn server that is advanced enough to meet the high failover requirements of mission-critical computing, according to Reynolds.

“There’s going to be a Longhorn server version and that may be where this is aimed,” Reynolds said. “Server 2003 is sort of done.”

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