Fujitsu, Sun form partnership to keep Solaris's lead on NT
Move strengthens position of Solaris on Merced
Today, top officials from Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu stressed that the goal of their partnership is to "consolidate Unix around Solaris" and add features to the Solaris operating system (OS) that will extend its lead over Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT.
Fujitsu will boost its support for Solaris while providing code and know-how to future versions of Sun's OS, with Fujitsu dispatching some 20 engineers to Sun to be dedicated to the development. Enhancements from Fujitsu will first appear in Solaris in the first half of next year, the companies said.
Fujitsu will start Solaris-on-Intel sales later this year in the Asia-Pacific region and will roll out a Merced-based server in the U.S. sometime next year, according to Junji Maeyama, group president of Fujitsu's Software Group.
At a press conference in Tokyo today, SunSoft Inc. President Janpieter Scheerder said that his company needs Fujitsu's experience in adding reliability, availability, and serviceability to Solaris.
"We have a partner we can learn from," Scheerder said. "I'm not too proud to take it."
The enhancements Fujitsu will bring Solaris will include extending the scalability of the OS and automating the procedures and practices for troubleshooting, Scheerder said, adding that Fujitsu's systems diagnostic technology was attractive and will help boost Solaris users' ability to isolate and fix system errors quickly.
The joint work is an extension of an already long relationship between the two companies. Still one of the largest mainframe vendors in the world, Fujitsu is one of Sun's largest resellers in Japan, where it offers SPARC systems under its own brand. In addition, Fujitsu is a large manufacturer of the SPARC chips used in Sun's computers.
Fujitsu is Japan's number two Unix server vendor -- behind NEC Corp. -- with a 13.5 percent market share, according to data released yesterday by IDC Japan Ltd.
Officials declined to estimate the number of Solaris-on-Intel machines Fujitsu will ship but said the enhancements will help keep Solaris' lead over Microsoft's Windows NT. Citing independent research that compared the two operating systems in key areas such as scalability, affordability, and availability, the chairman of Sun's Japan unit, Keikichi Honda, said that overall Solaris scored an "A-minus" while Windows NT only a "C."
"NT is optimized as a PC operating system and is now trying to become a server operating system," Scheerder said. "What it is not is a network operating system," like Solaris, he said.
Scheerder maintained that the porting of Solaris onto Intel architecture is not a bad sign for the SPARC architecture, which is the dominant architecture for Solaris machines.
Fujitsu's Intel machines will add to, but not replace its work with Solaris on SPARC machines, Scheerder said, adding "We continue to work aggressively on SPARC. There is only one Solaris...there is no difference in the Solaris for Intel and the Solaris for SPARC."
Sun officials say that Solaris on Intel now boasts a portfolio of about 4,000 applications. The Solaris on SPARC portfolio is approximately 13,000 strong.
Solaris Vice President of Server Products Rich Green could not say how many new applications the deal would bring to Solaris on Intel. He positioned the deal as part of an industry consolidation around Solaris. With today's announcement Fujitsu will join NCR Corp. in Sun's Solaris Business Council, which guides future enhancements to Solaris.
"Solaris is becoming almost a de facto standard in the world, if I may say in a modest way," Sun's Honda said.
Sun hopes that other hardware vendors will see things this way and adopt Solaris as their Unix operating system for Merced. Green said that, though Merced is expected to be out next year, there are still several vendors who could jump from their own flavors of Unix to Solaris. "I think it will be quite some time before you can tally up the score card," he said.
--Rob Guth, IDG News Service, with additional reporting by Robert McMillan
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