Although most American technology professionals don't realize it, Fujitsu is the fourth largest provider of server hardware in the world, behind the big three Dell, HP, and IBM. This week at LinuxWorld in Boston, the company will be introducing some new servers based on Intel's latest Xeon technology as well as some software solutions that could improve Linux's attraction as a TCO-reducer for certain enterprises.
Prior to the show, I recorded ZDNet podcast interview #9 (download the MP3, or learn how to have them automatically downloaded while you're sleeping) with Richard McCormack, Fujitsu's vice president of products and solutions. We talked about the new offerings and the stake that Fujitsu is looking to put in American soil. Here's the gist of the Q&A (these are summaries, not exact quotes):
What is Fujitsu announcing at LinuxWorld this week?
tyle="FONT-STYLE: italic">The TX150 Monoprocessor (1P) tower and our blade servers are getting the latest in 3.6 Ghz processors from Intel. Also, Fujitsu is announcing two software solutions. One, to drive down TCO, is called FlexFrame, and it virtualizes an SAP environment on SuSE Linux. The second is middleware called Interstage that's for using Linux blades to execute faster queries on non-structured data.What are the details on the Primergy TX150?
The 150 is a small- and branch-office-targeted monoprocessor system with hot-pluggable disk drives that will start at around $1,200. Its cost is optimized for serial ATA technology but can also take advantage of SCSI as well. The server is certified to run Linux from Red Hat and SuSE, and Fujitsu is working with Red Hat to get it certified for the newest version of Red Hat Linux, the one being announced at LinuxWorld --- Red Hat Linux 4.What's special about the new blade servers?
They use Intel's 3.6 Ghz dual-processor (2p), enhanced level-2 cache version of Intel's Xeon processor. Fujitsu also has 1p and 4p blades, but those blades are existing SKUs that aren't getting refreshed yet. The minimum cost of a blade starts at $2,400 per blade. The maximum configuration is two processors, 12GB RAM, and two hot-pluggable Ultra 320 SCSI drives. Fujitsu doesn't come to top of mind for American IT pros. Is Fujitsu looking to change that?
Fujitsu is not well associated with Intel servers. One reason Fujitsu is at the show is to promote the brand and to show that it not only has the servers, but also solutions like FlexFrame and Interstage that add value to that hardware. Is interest in the value-added solutions required for Fujitsu's hardware to make sense versus more well-known enterprise brands like Dell, HP, and IBM?
Fujitsu believes that customers don't select providers just on the basis of the raw hardware they have to offer. Fujitsu thinks it can add value in the area of understanding customers' environments, providing services and solutions to help customers get the most out of their systems, and through the software solutions on top of that.That sounds a lot like what Dell, HP, and IBM say. Beyond just the two specialized software solutions, what other software is Fujitsu working on to set itself apart?
Flexframe is far and away better than what the other guys have for driving down TCO but it's correct that Flexframe is currently specific to SAP. Fujitsu can take those concepts that went into Flexframe -- concepts of virtualization and autonomic computing -- and then apply it to the software products (beyond SAP) of other vendors as well. So that's exactly what Fujitsu is going to be doing. Fujitsu conjures up images of refrigerator-sized systems and, true to form, it has a frig-sized Itanium-based systems coming. What are the details on that?
Fujitsu is working on a joint project with Intel that will be announced in the summer timeframe. It uses up to 32 Itanium processors and runs Linux. Red Hat 4 will come in handy for this system since it's based on version 2.6 of the Linux kernel, which is inherently better at multiprocessor support than previous versions of the kernel. But Itanium has had difficulties. How does Fujitsu look at the broader processor market? For example, what about 32/64-bit hybrid alternatives?
Fujitsu knows the high end well. The decision to go with Itanium was based on what it takes to build reliable systems that can scale up and out. Currently, the company has no plans to roll out big iron Linux and Windows (32-64 processors) on anything but Itanium. This is LinuxWorld, but what about Microsoft Windows?
Windows Server will be available on the 32p system and its availability will make it more difficult for customers to make a selection amongst the OS alternatives. Fujitsu also has a range of Itanium solutions -- 2- and 4-way systems -- that run with the 64-bit version of Windows.