HP, NEC combines at the high end

NEC and Hewlett-Packard have joined to set up alternatives to mainframes for mission-critical operations in large corporations.

The companies aim to provide large-scale systems with full-time availability, primarily based on HP Unix servers but also bringing in other infrastructure elements, including third-party components such as Cisco Systems routers, said Jochi Yasuhito of NEC's corporate communications division. The systems may also involve platforms other than Unix, he added. Hardware platforms will include ones based on Intel and on NEC processors, he said.

In addition, the companies will create a new product that includes HP server hardware running NEC's OpenDiosa middleware for running high-availability applications on non-mainframe servers. The companies plan to offer the product this year both in and outside Japan, Yasuhito said. The partnership will also leverage HP's Utility Data Centre technology, designed to help enterprises automate and better manage their data centres, and its Integrated Service Management system for streamlined service delivery.

The companies have been in a product-reselling alliance since 1995. Their ultimate goal for the next three years will be to build these mission-critical systems at 100 global companies, said Toshiro Kawamura, vice president of NEC Solutions.

Large-scale mainframe-based systems still exist at many corporations, Kawamura said. But when mergers occur, it is difficult and costly to integrate different systems, he said.

NEC and HP say that the need to rebuild those companies' systems on open platforms is rapidly increasing, and they hope to become the global leaders in the new market, he said.

NEC brings to the equation its capabilities in both open systems and mainframes, and it looks to HP as the leader in the "post-mainframe era" because of its core Unix strengths.

"The mainframe market is dominated by IBM, however, we are talking about creating a whole different market here," Kawamura said. This means creating a "post-mainframe-era market", which would be difficult for one company to do but possible for an alliance like this one, Kawamura said.

"HP has a complete product line due to its merger with Compaq," said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP Services. " HP and IBM are the only two companies with a complete portfolio of products."

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