Fujitsu Siemens Computers' server marketing manager was in London recently, so we grabbed the opportunity to talk to him about the company's fourth pace in the server sales charts, about blade servers, and FSC's emphasis on green issues -- among other things.
Q: FSC seems content to be an also-ran in the server market. How can this be changed? A: We're in a very strong fourth position with Acer and Sun very much behind us. The next in the rankings is IBM or Dell, depending on quarter results. We're getting closer to IBM but they're around 15 percent and we're around nine percent at the moment. So we still have possibilities to grow. With this sort of growth rate, and they're not growing, it'll take about another two years to overtake them.
Q: If you were in IBM's shoes what would you do to stop you? IBM is watching and so are HP and Dell. A: It's a good question. We at FSC are focusing on interesting markets and have the benefits of high quality machines with strong technology leadership. I want to emphasise the quality approach, we're not going to manufacture in China and that's what makes us very strong. I wouldn't recommend IBM to move away from Lenovo but they've got more products going towards Lenovo quality and that's helping us.
Q: So you think you can overtake them on product quality? A: Various things but also communicating into the market, and having approach in terms of innovation and not forcing people into cul de sacs, into lock-in situations.
When I look at the BladeCenter approach, more and more people are seeing the motivation behind the focus on BladeCenter. Instead, we at FSC are heavily focusing on standards which means no lock-in. We're not ruling out blade chassis but trying to make them as standard as possible, so we want to take the approach from an Egenera blade server and apply them to the x86 architecture.
Compare it to a Unix server, every x86 server is standard since everything is individual. But lock-in is possible in terms of server management and IO components and it became very clear that IBM is focusing on lock-in than on standards.
Q: But there's lots of money in locking customers into a blade chassis. Why wouldn't you do that? A: There are promotions available to do that but servers are about not just purchase price but also management and reducing TCO. It's also about right-sizing and availability, and the ability to move resources around as required. The trick is to get as close as possible to the business need while reducing complexity. That why we focus on our dynamic data centre strategy which is about simplicity, flexibility efficiency, robustness -- and not proprietary.
Q: It's always going to be proprietary if I can only buy it from you. A: The interesting point is how much proprietary technology is allowed while driving innovation. If you're not proprietary like Dell, can you innovate, but who pays for your development costs?
We have a huge R&D at Fujitsu and Siemens so we're trying to both -- innovate while maintaining standards. Our rack servers are standard -- consumables if you like, we integrate with other vendors' server management systems, for example. On the blade server side, when you provide a blade server with standard interconnects, Cisco switches and that's smart enough to provide a standard interface to the outside world, you're left with a 7U unit that forces you to use a specific blade.
Vendors are discussing the possibility if a standard blade server, talks that have been going on for 18 months at least -- and you'll be seeing something coming out very soon from Fujitsu Siemens.
Q: FSC has pinned its colours firmly to the green mast? How to convince people that it's not just greenwash? A: When this idea came first from the US, we said we've been doing this for years. HP servers are less power-efficient than ours - we have lots of different configurations and products. But you have to say that green looks good on annual report but it also saves energy. The biggest aspect is that people are at least now talking about green stuff. It's real. For instance, one big company has the facilities manager watering the aircon to keep things cool. And a London bank got fined for heating the pavement with its data centre. And data centre managers turning down business because of power issues.
But while we need to work on improving the 400W a server uses, the latest SPEC power standard that's coming out shows we're best at power efficiency.
Q: But can a low-carbon server -- such as the one FSC launched in July -- also be a powerful server? A: there are lots of things we can do, such as using efficient PSUs, and shutting down servers while not in use. People are afraid of this ion case they don't come up again, because it's outside the server design spec. But we once had to design servers for 5,000 boot cycles over a lifetime for the Japanese market so now we build and test all our servers tested for 5,000 boot cycles.