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Fujitsu fluffs COBOL, Java on Azure clouds

IT cannot code by C# and VB.NET alone

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Fujitsu customers who use its COBOL and Java application development and middleware software can finally run that code on the Fujitsu Azure clouds, significantly enhancing their appeal in Japan.

Fujitsu launched its own private-label platform cloud based on Microsoft's Azure software stack back in June, after a delay of more than six months.

Fujitsu was lined up along with Hewlett-Packard and Dell back in July 2010 by Microsoft to stand behind the Azure platform cloud, saying that they would deliver server appliances that customers could run on premise based on Azure as well as Azure public clouds that ran in their respective data centers.

The public Azure clouds with HP, Dell, and Fujitsu labels were supposed to ship before the end of 2010, with private versions that companies could buy and run behind their own firewalls slated for some future – and unspecified – delivery date. Thus far, Fujitsu is the only one of the three Azure partners that has gotten anything to market.

Last month, after delays that neither Microsoft nor Fujitsu have explained, the Japanese IT giant puffed up its Fujitsu Global Cloud Platform Powered By Windows Azure, or FGCP/A5 for short, which is the hosted Azure cloud. FGCP/A5 initially runs in one of own Fujitsu's own data centers in Japan, and was undergoing beta testing with 20 customers since April. It goes live in August.

The FGCP/A5 cloud runs the entire Microsoft Azure stack, which includes support for .NET, Java, and PHP program services and data storage capabilities that are compatible with Microsoft's own Azure cloud. The Azure stack includes compute and storage services as well as SQL Azure database services and Azure AppFabric technologies, including Service Bus and Access Control Service. Fujitsu didn't say what servers and storage are underpinning its FGCP/A5 Azure cloud, but it is almost certainly a mix of Primergy rack and blade servers, Eternus storage arrays, and Fujitsu Ethernet switches.

Most Windows Azure customers running on the homebase Microsoft version code their applications in Microsoft's Visual C# or Visual Basic.NET programming languages. Java and PHP are options, of course, but are not what Microsoft prefers. Given its mainframe heritage and its long-standing support of Unix platforms, Fujitsu has a large number of customers that have coded applications on COBOL and Java, and using its own tools in particular to code and run those COBOL and Java applications.

To that end, Fujitsu has announced that its Interstage Application Server V1, a Java EE 6-compliant application server, is now certified to run on the FGCP/A5 version of the hosted Azure cloud from Fujitsu. So is NetCOBOL for .NET V4.2, which is a COBOL compiler and runtime environment for moving mainframe applications over to Windows and now Azure clouds. The Interstage application server assumes programmers are working from an Eclipse-based integrated development environment, while NetCOBOL snaps into Microsoft's Visual Studio tools.

In addition to the Fujitsu Java and COBOL support, the Japanese system maker also announced that its Systemwalker Operations Manager V1 job scheduler can now span on premise gear and the FGCP/A5 Azure cloud, dispatching work inside and outside the corporate firewall. Systemwalker Centric Manager V13.5, a system management tool, can similarly reach out and monitor what is going on inside the FGCP/A5 cloud.

Pricing for the Java and COBOL tools was not announced. In the June rollout of FGCP/A5, Fujitsu said that it would charge ¥5 per hour (a little more than 6 cents at current exchange rates) for the equivalent of one virtual server instance corresponding to an extra small Azure instance from Microsoft. That works out to around $45 per month compared to the $37.50 per month that Microsoft is charging.

Fujitsu believes that over the next five years, it can get 400 enterprise customers and 5,000 small and midrange businesses (including application software developers) to pay for the FGCP/A5 cloud.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft has done a deal to support Fujitsu's tools on its own Azure clouds, or if Dell or HP will do so when they finally get their own hosted versions of Azure clouds up in the sky. ®

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