Fujitsu’s annual Fujitsu Forum attracted about 13.000 in Tokyo and even about 10.000 people over the last two days in Munich. Fujitsu’s strength is still the competitive hardware portfolio in the class of IBM and HP. And similar to HP, Fujitsu used to have a narrow and focused software portfolio, which offered value very close to their hardware. The FlexFrame infrastructure management product is a traditional example of this strategy. But, before we go into FlexFrame, I have to attest that Fujitsu’s software portfolio has become richer and broader:
- This year’s Fujitsu Forum showed major traction for the Fujitsu Cloudstore. An ecosystem approach enables software vendors to offer SaaS application in the SMB space in Germany. The concept is now rolling out to other countries and even to the US. Fujitsu’s Cloudstore also holds Fujitsu’s own CRM solutions, which are based on an early branch of Sugar CRM and now further developed by Fujitsu.
- A personal cloud approach, still very close to all flavors of personal hardware from Fujitsu, but well supported by multiple software tools and scenarios.
- Fujitsu Eco Track, an energy/carbon management and compliance reporting application – delivered exclusively next quarter as a Fujitsu-developed SaaS application.
Let's come back to FlexFrame, which has been around for 10 years. FlexFrame was once the first elastic resource management for SAP environments. It managed, already in the pre-virtualization decade, the dynamic allocation of physical blades to server tasks of complex SAP landscapes in an already fully automated way. While Fujitsu kept selling it exclusively with their own hardware, the FlexFrame customer visibility was falling far behind the private cloud management tools of the major virtualization vendors and even innovative startups like Fluid Operations. Customers might have even overseen that FlexFrame could handle modern hypervisors for some time. Fujitsu revamped FlexFrame now with a new FlexFrame Orchestrator and full support of SAP Hana, a compelling value proposition for enterprises and cloud providers running more than one Hana instance on a dedicated piece of hardware.
Furthermore, Fujitsu removed the restriction to own hardware and offers a FlexFrame certification approach for third-party hardware. A clever move to leverage other vendors’ hardware that Fujitsu customers might have already – but there are not so many hardware vendors left that have not developed their own private cloud management products or committed, for example, to OpenStack. So Fujitsu needs to make the certification so lightweight that customers, and not hardware vendors, can certify existing hardware. Although Fujitsu is committed to open standards, SAP’s Hana appliance certification itself is not open enough to handle mixed vendor hardware or mixed RAM usage by Hana and, for example, Hadoop. Adding this type of elasticity based on RAM virtualization would be really compelling.
No doubt, FlexFrame offers some very useful features around SAP landscapes, but it still falls behind compared with the major virtualization products like VMware’s vCenter. For example, live migration capabilities such as offered by VMware’s vMotion are still on the FlexFrame road map for later next year.
Nevertheless, FlexFrame’s support of SAP Hana, preinstalled on Fujitsu's Hana appliances, might be compelling enough for many SAP users. Unfortunately, there was no demo of the FlexFrame Orchestrator for Hana available yesterday in Munich, as the Fujitsu software engineers are still working on the already announced FlexFrame version for some more months.