By William Fellows As reported in our news flash yesterday, Siemens AG is formally turning over the majority of its computer interests to a venture with Fujistu Ltd, which in turn will trigger new product and technology synergies with the Japanese company’s key partner in the enterprise, Sun Microsystems Inc. At the same time, the […]
By William Fellows
As reported in our news flash yesterday, Siemens AG is formally turning over the majority of its computer interests to a venture with Fujistu Ltd, which in turn will trigger new product and technology synergies with the Japanese company’s key partner in the enterprise, Sun Microsystems Inc. At the same time, the deal raises some competitive issues which have yet to be addressed.
There are two parts to the deal. First, Siemens and Fujitsu will combine sales and marketing operations on a global basis. Siemens’ non-European computer systems business interests and operations will be folded into local Fujitsu units. This agreement has no legal form. The second is a binding agreement under which Siemens’ and Fujitsu’s European operations are combined in a 50%-50% owned Fujitsu Computer Systems venture. The deal excludes Fujitsu’s ICL Plc and Siemens Business Services operations, but includes Siemens’ South African operation.
Details of the agreements, including news of restructuring or any job losses, are expected imminently. The companies want their venture to become the world’s third largest IT supplier. Their combined operations currently occupy fifth position.
Siemens, which has already committed to an Intel IA-64 future, gets a free gift of Sparc-based servers via the relationship Fujitsu has with Sun for its Sparc technology, and will begin selling Fujitsu’s Solaris boxes from October 1. Fujitsu has its own Granpower products and also OEMs Sun models.
Siemens is phasing out its MIPS RISC Reliant server and mainframe lines for IA-64 McKinley systems running Sun Solaris x86 and its own BS2000 mainframe operating system from the end of 2003. It’s been working with the 32-bit Solaris x86 for 18 months in preparation for delivering a 64-bit version of Solaris x86 on IA-64 systems. However it had also been tipped to pick up the 32-bit version of Solaris x86 for its Primergy Intel servers, which currently run the rival UnixWare OS from the Santa Cruz Operation, as well as Microsoft Corp’s Window NT. Instead, Siemens will transfer all of the resources currently devoted to 32-bit Solaris x86 over to the Sparc version of Solaris, which runs on the servers it will get from Fujitsu. Its customers will get a better leg up from 64-bit Sparc Solaris to IA-64 Solaris, it figures.
Sun’s competitors are sure to see the transfer of resources as a dent in Sun’s Solaris x86 campaign. Sun is sure to see it as another vote of confidence in its 64-bit Solaris – Sparc and x86. Sun already has access to Siemens’ Reliant Unix clustering and other technologies.
Siemens says the big leap it gets with the Fujitsu Solaris servers will be a 128-way version of the Granpower product which will supposedly debut next spring, well before Sun’s Serengheti servers, which will use the UltraSparc III Cheetah CPU. Fujitsu’s Hal Computer Systems Ltd unit supplies the UltraSparc-compatible Sparc64 for Granpower as well the SynFinity distributed shared memory interconnect. It’s supposed to have an UltraSparc III-generation Sparc64 in the field well before Sun. Siemens believes that’s a big opportunity given Sun’s CPU is late.
What may also put Sun’s nose out of joint is the re-assessment by Fujitsu of its Amdahl Corp mainframe unit’s relationship with Sun. Amdahl has been reselling Sun servers for many years, but will effectively be competing with its parent as Fujitsu US begins to target the enterprise market with its local Siemens’ operation. Moreover the Fujitsu/Siemens pact is likely to prompt a more widespread re-assessment of Amdahl’s activities.
Siemens says the joint venture will cherry pick technologies from the two companies’ respective Primergy and TeamServer Intel lines to create a single server product series over time.
Siemens expects to have migrated fully to IA-64 in six to eight years. It has already ported the BS2000 mainframe operating system from its CMOS servers onto the MIPS RISC chips which power its Reliant Unix servers and has begun the work on porting it to Intel using a mechanism it calls DOCT, the same it used to get BS2000 up on MIPS in the first place.
Siemens, which has sold 200 of the Reliant mainframe servers, runs BS2000 under emulation while a controller runs Unix on separate CPUs. The server is claimed to feel like a mainframe with all of the BS2000 administration and automation features while SAP, Oracle and other applications run on the Unix processors in a sandbox. The advantage, it says, is that they do not experience the same pain as IBM and other IBMulators have when they need to port every point upgrade of an new application to OS/390.
Siemens will continue to sell CMOS BS2000 systems for the high-end. These are M-Series S/390 IBMulators it OEMs from Fujitsu Ltd which are microcoded to run the IBM OS/VS1-alike BS2000 to which SNI has progressively added MVS features. They are not quite plug-compatible. There are said to be 3,000 BS2000 licensees.
Privately Siemens executives admit to being totally amazed that the company’s mainframe business is accelerating. It grew 11% last year and after 30 years of trying, Siemens has finally taken the top spot in its domestic mainframe market, according to IDC, which says Siemens has 41% of the German market – ahead of IBM Corp – and 18.1% of the mainframe market in Western Europe, where it is number two.