Fujitsu storage brand confuses strategy

The Japanese IT giant Fujitsu has made a bid for the lucrative storage market - but can the Eternus brand mask strategic issues with other Fujitsu businesses?

Fujitsu has launched a major new storage strategy with updated storage devices and a new bundle based on standard components, but the brand -- Eternus -- contains software that competes with Fujitsu's own software, and the company has yet to persuade its joint venture with Siemens to use Fujitsu storage. Fujitsu's GR storage systems have been named Eternus GR, and now have the ability to manage multiple vendors' storage area networks. Their I/O has been boosted to 48 Fibre Channel links and their hard disk capacity increased using 15,000 revolutions per minute drives. The Eternus bundle also includes products from Brocade, Veritas, Microsoft and Oracle. Observers say these choices make up a storage management offering that is "pretty standard", rather than the "exciting" that Fujitsu had hoped for in its release announcement. Alongside Veritas, Eternus will also include competing storage management products from Fujitsu's own Software Technology division ("Fujitsu Softek"). Softek was formed in 2001, and bought storage management company Vixel last month; it specialises in virtualisation. "We can use Softek or Veritas where they make sense," said Wayne Giroux, director of storage marketing at Fujitsu Technology Solutions, explaining the overlap between Softek's and Veritas' products. "Eternus is one toolbox." Softek's software will be independent of Fujitsu hardware, said Giroux, unlike that from EMC and Hitachi. The company is more-or-less independent of Fujitsu, he said. "Hitachi has good fundamental technology, but the focus has been on software to exploit its own technology. EMC's software works best on EMC hardware." According to Giroux, among the main storage players, only IBM and Fujitsu are focussed on cross-platform software. "We're not EMC," said Giroux. "We don't have 60 percent of the market. We have about 5 percent (worldwide). We don't have to worry about protectionism -- our customers already have someone else's technology. We must be vendor agnostic." The company will certainly need to demonstrate its multi-vendor abilities, if it wants to expand, even within the sprawling network of Fujitsu brands and co-brands; Fujitsu's joint venture with Siemens is selling EMC storage in preference to products from Fujitsu. A Fujitsu spokesman explained that EMC had a deal with Siemens that was set up before the joint venture, and this has been continued because of EMC's strong brand in Europe. Some observers worry that European users might feel that Eternus does little to unify the diverse brands within Fujitsu: Eternus will be sold in Europe by Amdahl IT Services (AITS), and in the US by Fujitsu Technology Solutions, which last month merged with AITS. UK users will be more familiar with Fujitsu Services, which was rebranded last month when the ICL name was dropped.

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