Fujitsu Aims New Server at Cloud Compute Providers

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Fujitsu is rolling out a new server designed specially for cloud computing providers.

The Primergy CX1000, based on Intel's Xeon 5600 series processors, is designed to be power-efficient and save space, said Richard McCormack, senior vice president of Fujitsu America's server and solutions business.

Because it is designed specifically for companies offering infrastructure-as-a-service, Fujitsu removed some typical server features such as redundant power supplies. Cloud providers usually don't need the added cost of redundant power supplies since they write software that can work around power failures, McCormack said.

In addition, Fujitsu has taken some of the power and cooling features found in individual servers and applied them at the rack level instead. The Primergy CX1000 is only available by the rack, which includes 38 servers.

The servers eliminate the need for the space behind racks where hot air is usually blown out. Instead, the CX1000 funnels the hot air out through the top of the rack, allowing racks to be placed back-to-back in a way that takes up less room, Fujitsu says.

Fujitsu expects to begin shipping the servers at the end of March, priced at US$90,000 for a rack of 38. The CX1000 will compete with products from IBM, SGI, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, who have all released servers designed specifically for cloud providers.

While it's selling them to other companies, Fujitsu said it designed the servers in part for its own needs. "Our own data center was one of the key guiding lights," McCormack said.

Fujitsu is starting to install the servers internally now. It expects them to help it lower the price for its own infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, due to the savings it will get from using more efficient hardware, he said.

A growing number of companies are providing infrastructure-as-a-service, opening the market for Fujitsu and its rivals. Rather than expanding their own data centers, some companies pay third parties to provide hosted computing and storage services.

"Customer demand is driving all these competitors," McCormack said. Still, from his perspective, the infrastructure-as-a-service market is still relatively small. "It's trending up but from a relatively small starting place," he said. "But more and more customers are interested in using pay-as-you-go apps."

Providers like Fujitsu are trying to offer specialized services in targeted markets to differentiate themselves from the many competitors. In the U.S. Fujitsu is targeting midsized companies that bring in about $500 million to $5 billion in revenue. "They are nimble and quick enough to look at infrastructure-as-a-service as a way forward," McCormack said.

Some service providers are also targeting specific vertical markets, he said.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with the 451 Group, is tracking more than 200 companies offering cloud compute services. "All of them are distinguishable through focus on a given sector," he said. He says they fall into 14 categories depending on the technologies and value-added services that they offer. For most of those categories, which could include a particular geography, company size, or vertical industry, he has identified between 10 and 20 suppliers.

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