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Fujitsu America Unveils Free Cloud Services

As one of the biggest IT vendors you've never heard of, at least as far as the U.S. market goes, Fujitsu America understands a business-as-usual approach to launching its cloud platform might not be the best approach. So the world's third-largest IT services provider, and fifth-largest server and PC vendor, is debuting a trial of the North American version of its 2-year-old Fujitsu Global Cloud Platform of the Fujitsu Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, beginning May 31 and ending Aug. 31.

Although she's only been with the company for six months, Jody Little, VP of cloud portfolio marketing at Fujitsu America, is tasked with increasing its North American presence. "The reason I believe that can be done is because Fujitsu globally is very big in cloud--already two years up in Japan, with roll-outs in Australia and the U.K. We've invested $2 billion in cloud in 2010, and already over $1 billion in 2011."

Valued at over $2,000 per month for full peak capacity access, the beta is built on open standards with published APIs, and includes 24/7 global support. It supports Microsoft and Linux, including CentOS open source-based applications. Recent Fujitsu research finds that customers can cut information and communications technology costs by as much as 40% while significantly reducing their carbon footprint. Provisioning is flexible and availability guaranteed to be at least 99.95%.

Fujitsu's cloud initiative is part of the emergence of trusted IT vendors jumping into the cloud pool, says IDC chief analyst Frank Gens. "The No. 1, 2 and 3 concerns customers have about going to cloud are security, availability and performance ... [and] I think that this idea of enterprise-grade cloud from trusted IT vendors like Fujitsu is an important advancement in the world."

The cloud market is at the threshold for huge growth, and it needs to take on more accountability for what Gens calls the "-ilities". He thinks the company's novel approach of a three-month free trial will draw attention and could help drive its overall IT business, especially as this is part of a global initiative. The offering should not only appeal to customers, but also to ISVs and potential vendor partners, he adds.

"We've seen, decade after decade, the market follows where the applications go, where the solutions go. I think the three-month trial could be very powerful." While it might not appeal to the big guys like Oracle and SAP, Gens says, there are tens of thousands of developers out there that may not have the resources to move their software to the cloud, and this offers an easier on-ramp.

A key concern will be pricing, but Gens' sense is Fujitsu understands that. "Amazon came in with a disrupter's mentality ... They pretty well screwed-down pricing." There's not a lot of fat in the cloud market, Gens says, and he expects cloud service prices will drop. According to IDC, $1 out of every $20 of server capacity in 2010 was spent on cloud, and by 2015, that will be $1 out of every $6.

This is a major inflection point for the IT industry, says Gens, like the PC-to-client/server evolution. "There is a chance for incumbents above you to screw up and a chance for companies to gain a stronger position," he says. He adds that Fujitsu' should build awareness of the company in the enterprise market, and investigate high-leverage partnerships that may be behind the scenes, such as with telecommunication carriers or service providers.

Fujitsu's service will become available for general release on Sept. 1 and will be competitively priced based on actual compute usage, storage, Internet communications and software, says the company.

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