NEC, HP team up to build reliable systems

NEC Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have joined to set up alternatives to mainframes for mission-critical operations in large corporations, the companies said in a memorandum of understanding announced Wednesday.

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 Inc. 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 Corp. 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 also will leverage HP’s Utility Data Center technology, designed to help enterprises automate and better manage their data centers, and its Integrated Service Management system for streamlined service delivery, according to a statement by the companies.

The Tokyo company and the Palo Alto, California, company 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 Co.

They will initially look for customers in the financial service, telecommunication and manufacturing industries in the U.S. and Japan, and have started several joint projects, Kawamura said.

In the second phase, by the second quarter of next year, they plan to expand their targeted clients from Japan and the U.S. to other parts of Asia and eventually worldwide, Kawamura said.

The tie-up includes marketing, system integration and customer support services.

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, according to an HP statement.

“The mainframe market is dominated by IBM Corp., 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 by merger with Compaq (Computer Corp.),” said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP Services, attending the news conference via video from New York. “Therefore, HP and IBM now are the only two companies with a complete portfolio of products.”