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Fujitsu Readies Linux Mainframe for Later This Year

Coming Into Mainframes

  • February 24, 2005
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

With shipment of an Intel-based "Linux mainframe" slated for later this year, and the release this month of new "Shunsaku XML Search" software, Fujitsu is currently pulling together mounting momentum in an increasingly competitive enterprise Linux race.

Yet Fujitsu is certainly no stranger to Linux, anyway, according to Richard McCormack, vice president of product and solution.

Fujitsu established a Linux Center back in January, 2000, and then joined the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) in 2001, McCormack pointed out, in an interview with LinuxPlanet. Over the same time frame, the long-time mainframe computing specialist began porting its Cobol-based middleware to Linux operating environments.

"What we're doing with Linux right now is an extension of all of that," McCormack told LinuxPlanet. For the moment, one of Fujitsu's biggest claims to fame in enterprise Linux is the Pentium 4-based Primergy TX150 S3 server, dubbed by McCormack "the only server in its class" to offer integrated BMC hardware remote management; ECC memory; integrated RAID 1; and hot-plug SCSI or SATA hard drives.

But this month, Fujitsu is really talking up its forthcoming eight-to-16-processor, 64-bit Itanium Linux mainframe, along with industry partnerships and its latest software innovations in the high-end Linux space.

"Shansaku," a software offering released in North America during LinuxWorld, provides virtualized database access and search on blade computers, McCormack said. The software has already been shipping in Japan for about a year now.

Also at the trade show in Boston, Fujitsu demo'd FlexFrame, a Linux-enabled utility tool for mySAP. FlexFrame provides automated deployment, monitoring, and maintenance for mySAP, plus "dramatically lowered TCO," LinuxPlanet was told.

Hella, a German-based international supplier of auto parts and components, claims to have reduced its IT costs by 30 percent with the use of Fujitsu's FlexFrame for mySAP Business Suite, a set of hardware and software which encapsulates the SAP landscape in the control nodes, so that the system can react flexibly to resource requirements whenever a new SAP service is launched.

Showgoers at LinuxWorld could also catch glimpses of Fujitsu's Adaptive Services, a utility computing framework for Linux targeting automated deployment, load balancing, maintenance, and increased utilization of blade resources.

Beyond its relationships with SAP, Intel, and Sun, Fujitsu has been partnering closely with both Red Hat and Novell's SuSE Linux for the past several years, according to McCormack.

Also at LinuxWorld, Fujitsu announced certification and support for the new Red Hat 4.0 release, the first distribution from Red Hat to use the Linux 6.5 kernel.

Fujitsu's existing Primergy S3 servers are available in rack, tower and blade models, according to McCormack. "Primergy Blade Servers are the perfect platform for 'scale-out' solutions like FlexFrame," he maintained.

Fujitsu also offers several tools for Linux on Primergy servers, including RemoteDeploy, for automated provisioning of Linux OS and applications; ServerStart, for easing Linux installation; and SystemWalker management agents.

In addition to its Primergy line-up, Fujitsu produces two-, four-, and eight-way PrimePower servers for Linux, based on Sun Microsystem SPARC processors, as well as PrimeCluster clustering software for both the Primergy and PrimePower line-ups.

German-based TV broadcaster ZDF, another end user, is using PrimeCluster with two PrimePower 600 servers. One server runs ZDF's database, while the other operates its Vignette content management system. In this deployment, PrimeCluster is being used in an effort to assure failover in the event that one of the two servers goes down.

"But it's with the (Fujitsu) Linux mainframe that mission-critical Linux will really arrive," McCormack contended. The upcoming mainframe will combine "Intel processor technology and Fujitsu mainframe expertise," LinuxPlanet was told.

Intel, of course, developed the mainframe's Itanium processor, but Fujitsu designed the I/O subsystem. The new mainframe for high-end Linux will also provide up to 16 partitions and both "mirror mode" and autonomic operations.

As McCormack sees it, Fujitsu's Linux mainframe will give users better price performance than either clustered two-, four-, and eight-way servers from many competitors, or the IBM approach of running Linux "virtual servers" on top of the mainframe OS.

For one thing, Fujitsu's mainframes will be smaller and less costly than IBM's machines, according to the Fujitsu VP.

Fujitsu's Linux product line-up is more extensive in Japan, McCormack said. In North America, the company plans to stick with enterprise Linux, for the most part, working through already established sales channels.

McCormack acknowledged, though, that at some point, Fujitsu might decide to offer Linux-based mobile computing to its base of North American corporate customers.

"But at this point, we don't have any desktop Linux products under way that I'm aware of, in North America or anywhere else," LinuxPlanet was told.

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