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Volume 2, Number 11 -- March 17, 2005

But Wait, There's More

Fujitsu-Siemens Mulling Solaris for Primergy X86 Server Line

With its strong desire to sell X86-based servers and the desire of its Solaris partner, Sun Microsystems, to push more Solaris sales on X86 servers, you think it would be a foregone conclusion that the Fujitsu-Siemens partnership would have long-since offered support for Solaris 8, 9, and now 10 on its Primergy Xeon-based servers. Not so.

In fact, it is only now, after Sun has made it clear that it is not going to kill off the X86 version of Solaris (as it tried to do two years ago), that Fujitsu-Siemens is thinking it might be a good time to mull over the possibility of supporting Solaris on its own Xeon servers. In fact, it would have been pretty embarrassing to Fujitsu-Siemens if it had embraced Solaris on X86 all those years ago and then Sun jerked around its support for it.

But the past is past, and Richard McCormack, vice president of product and solutions marketing for the partnership's Fujitsu Computer Systems unit in North America, said that the partnership is thinking over its options. "Some people inside Fujitsu think Solaris on Primergy might be a good idea," he says, holding his cards close to his vest. The Primergy line currently supports Windows and Linux.

Primergy machines are also based exclusively on Intel's Pentium, Xeon, and Itanium processors, and it does not look like this is going to change any time soon. "Fujitsu-Siemens is a pure Intel shop," says McCormack, and it doesn't sound like the partnership is inclined to change its stance on that even as Advanced Micro Devices' hybrid 32-bit/64-bit Opteron chips take off in the server space. He characterized Opteron as a chip useful for workstations and laptops (and some vendors would obviously argue that it is perfectly suited to servers). And while Fujitsu-Siemens is supporting 64-bit Xeon processors in its Primergy servers, he said that the company had no plans to offer either Opteron or Xeon-64 processors in its future "Mission Critical Intel Architecture" server, which will be based on Itanium chips, or Opterons in the Primergy line.

Yarro Tightens His Grip on SCO as Canopy Severs Ties to Him

The SCO Group's $3 billion Unix-Linux lawsuit against IBM was saved from a potential derailing as Ralph Yarro, SCO's chairman, and the trust of 80-year-old Novell founder Ray Noorda settled a lawsuit that Yarro and several of his colleagues had filed purporting their wrongful dismissal from The Canopy Group earlier this year. This is only interesting in as much as Yarro, once a right-hand-man of Noorda after he was ousted from Novell, is the biggest shareholder in SCO, and that Canopy, the vehicle through which the Noorda Family Trust has been investing in high-tech companies since 1995, was the biggest institutional shareholder in SCO. Oh, and let's not forget that Yarro used to be CEO at Canopy. (I outlined all of these connections in greater detail earlier this year in this newsletter.)

The Noorda Family Trust had removed Yarro from the top post at Canopy late last year and sued him and other executives because they had allegedly paid themselves $20 to $25 million in compensation that was not approved by the Canopy board; Yarro countersued for $100 million for wrongful dismissal. Under the settlement, apparently Yarro gets all of Canopy's shares in SCO (which amounted to a 39.7 percent stake a year ago), which he can add to his own stake (which came to 39.5 percent). Basically, Yarro has controlled SCO for many years through Canopy, and now he absolutely controls SCO through ownership. His current stake in the company is not known. If you want to see just how ugly this other SCO-related case was, go to the Salt Lake Tribune, search for "Canopy," and read all the gory details.

Oracle Tops Relational Database Market in 2004, says IDC

According to statistics compiled by IDC, Oracle has once again been crowned king of the relational database market in terms of the money it rakes in. IDC reckons that Oracle took 43.1 percent of the $14.9 billion worldwide relational database market, giving it a big lead over IBM and Microsoft.

As in other IDC sectors where U.S.-based companies dominate, the 11.6 percent growth that the relational database market posted in 2004 is somewhat suspect, since a large portion of this growth is due to the weakened dollar. The weak dollar has the effect of inflating the reported sales of U.S. companies like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Sybase, and NCR, the top five relational database vendors in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, IBM accounted for 30.6 percent of the relational database market (including sales of the DB2/400 embedded database inside OS/400 on its iSeries line as well DB2 for the mainframe, DB2 for Windows, Unix, and Linux, and Informix for Unix). IBM also has a reasonably large business selling the IMS flat-file database management system, but IDC was not counting such programs in its stats. Microsoft had a 13.4 percent share of the market, with Sybase and NCR (whose integrated database is used in its Teradata data warehousing servers) each getting 3.1 percent. IDC said that IBM and Sybase grew slower than the overall market, while Microsoft had the largest growth. Oracle had smaller growth than Microsoft, but took in an incrementally larger pile of dough selling relational databases last year.

German Construction Giant Ousts HP-UX Superdomes for IBM's p5 Servers

German construction company The Wuerth Group, a 6.2 billion euro multinational company with over 2.2 million customers, announced that it has tossed out its two Superdome servers, which run the company's ERP systems on HP's HP-UX Unix variant, with a network of four p5 570 servers running IBM's AIX Unix variant. As is often the case at fast-growing companies--the company boosted sales by 13.7 percent and added 12 percent to its workforce last year--the occasion for upgrading the core systems in the data center was also, to HP's chagrin, an occasion to review which Unix platform should be in the data center.

This is why people still love Unix: as one vendor provides better hardware or software features, the ability to move between Unix platforms is significantly easier than moving off a proprietary platform to another box. The other thing that helped Wuerth be more fluid in its choice of servers is that prior to the Y2K changeover, it switched from a homegrown ERP system to an implementation of SAP R/3 running atop HP-UX and Oracle databases. Because Wuerth's applications are abstracted up to the Oracle and SAP level, it can more or less easily move from any platform that supports SAP and Oracle as server technology or economics dictate. HP had to work hard to win the Wuerth account in 1998, and IBM will now have to work hard to retain it.

Let this be a lesson to you. Staying on Unix has its benefits.

Fujitsu-Siemens Ports FlexFrame Grid/Virtualization Middleware to Solaris

At the CeBIT technology show in Hannover, Germany last week, Fujitsu-Siemens announced that it has ported its FlexFrame grid and virtualization middleware from its original Linux-Intel environment to include Solaris-based servers, including Fujitsu-Siemens' own PrimePower boxes and Sun Microsystems' UltraSparc-based Sun Fire machines. FlexFrame is a long-term architectural initiative from the company that seeks to virtualize server and storage resources and manage them from a single point. Fujitsu-Siemens is currently selling a variant of FlexFrame that manages SAP applications running on Primergy blade and rack servers and Network Appliance storage arrays and allows the SAP applications and databases to be deployed across multiple server types. With FlexFrame for mySAP 3.1, Fujitsu-Siemens will now support Solaris-based boxes for running SAP ERP suites. A version of FlexFrame for supporting Oracle ERP suites is underway.

Fiorina Misses Out on World Bank Gig

This week, American president George Bush surprised many in the IT and international political communities when he named Paul Wolfowitz, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense who was one of the architects of American policy in Iraq, to head the World Bank. Former Hewlett-Packard chairman and CEO, Carly Fiorina, had been rumored to be in the running for the president position at the World Bank, but her appointment, considering she was ousted rather unceremoniously from HP a few months ago, would have its own problems. For the past several decades, the United States has picked the head of the World Bank, which finances big Third World projects using First World investments (primarily from the G7 countries) and European countries have nominated the head of the International Monetary Fund, which provides emergency relief for countries experiencing financial disasters. Europe has reacted somewhat coolly to Bush's nomination of Wolfowitz, so Fiorina might get another shot at the top World Bank job. Then again, it may go to someone else. Louis Gerstner, who is the former head of IBM and who is currently chairman of The Carlyle Group, comes immediately to mind.

SGI Says Its Servers, Storage, and Viz Technology Are Grid Ready

Supercomputer maker SGI is well known for its Unix and Linux parallel supercomputers, but the company wants to remind everyone that it is well aware that just building standalone clusters is insufficient in the modern high-performance computing market. That is why SGI has been grid-enabling its various server and storage products and participating in the Global Grid Forum and other grid-related projects, says Walter Stewart, business development manager for grid computing at SGI.

"Fewer and fewer of our customers are building big, standalone systems," says Stewart. "In publicly funded facilities, people cannot even get their grants funded unless they acquire grid-enabled technology right from the beginning." He says that even private supercomputer installations are looking for HPC clusters that can server multiple purposes within their organizations and bring multiple resources to be shared, which obviously requires grid hardware software technology. Stewart says that there is an interesting parallel between the industrial revolution of the 18th century and the information revolution of the late 20th century. In the 18th century, businesses built increasingly elaborate distribution systems for the movement of raw materials and finished goods around the world; today, we are building increasingly elaborate distribution systems for data and computing capacity so we can move it around the world. "SGI is not focusing so much on where the computing is, but on where the users are," says Stewart. And that is perhaps the best definition of grid computing anyone has pronounced yet.

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Managing Editor: Shannon Pastore
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Kevin Vandever,
Shannon O'Donnell, Victor Rozek, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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