Fujitsu gives Microsoft .NET a boost

Fujitsu Ltd. announced plans Tuesday to broaden its existing global partnership with Microsoft Corp., saying it will offer products and services based on Microsoft's .NET platform to enterprise customers around the world.

As part of the deal, Fujitsu, in Tokyo, will develop a version of its Interstage middleware products for use with Microsoft's .NET platform, the company said. The current version of Interstage is based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java technology and includes a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) application server, enterprise software applications and development tools.

Interstage is one of the most widely used application development platforms in Japan, according to Rob Enderle, a research fellow with Giga Information Group Inc. For Fujitsu, one motivation for the deal may be to help it expand its presence in the IT market and compete more effectively with major players such as IBM Corp., he said.

"I think they're making a run at the global services market," Enderle said.

While Interstage products have been able to run on past releases of Windows, its roots in Java required users to run the software using a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), according to Robert Pomeroy, a Fujitsu spokesman in Japan. A JVM is a program that allows applications written in Java to run on virtually any computer regardless of its operating system.

The .NET version of Interstage will be based on Microsoft's .NET Framework and allow applications to run on Microsoft's line of .NET enterprise servers, including the upcoming release of Windows .NET Server, the companies said. Fujitsu will continue to also offer customers the Java version of Interstage.

With the .NET release, developers will be able to write applications for Interstage using Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET programming tools. Currently, applications for Interstage can be programmed using Fujitsu's APWorks developer tools, said Chiseki Sagawa, a Microsoft manager who handles for the company's alliance with Fujitsu.

Fujitsu also said it will also offer a vertical .NET-based XML Web service offering, called iFIRST, for the insurance industry.

Besides the efforts around Web services infrastructure, Fujitsu said it will also offer a variety of computing systems that combine its hardware and middleware with Microsoft's .NET enterprise products, including systems for mobile computing.

The partnership with Microsoft extends to Fujitsu's numerous subsidiaries around the world including Fujitsu Technology Solutions Inc., Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Fujitsu Consulting and Fujitsu Services. In addition to existing Java offerings, each of these will develop hardware and software for use in .NET environments, and Fujitsu's IT consulting and services subsidiaries will add .NET support to their menus.

"The key thing is Fujitsu's commitment to .NET," said Susann Berndt-Radley, Microsoft's director of global partners.

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