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Microsoft adds Amdahl to NT roster

The software behemoth adds another partner to its list to help push its Windows NT operating system into large corporations.

Microsoft (MSFT) just can't seem to find enough partners to help push its Windows NT operating system into large corporations.

Following last week's expansion of the software behemoth's relationship with veteran systems company Digital Equipment, Microsoft today announced a new alliance with Amdahl, a provider of mainframe and mid-range computer systems.

Windows NT, a client and server-based operating system (OS) targeted at corporations, has been taking an ever-larger chunk of new server system installations in corporate departments. Most of its success up to now has come at the expense of low-end competitors such IBM's OS/2 and Novell's NetWare, but Microsoft executives have made it known that they aim to eventually displace mid-range Unix-based systems and take advantage of corporate migrations from older mainframe systems.

"Our goal is to push up and be as scalable as we possibly can," said Steve Ballmer, executive vice president of sales and support at Microsoft.

Ballmer said Microsoft expects 1.5 million copies of Windows NT server to be sold this year and highlighted the software's current 60 percent annual growth rate. Sales of NT already surpass those of all Unix variants combined, as well as OS/2 and NetWare.

Thus, Amdahl has been added to Microsoft's partnership portfolio, which also consists of Unisys and Hewlett-Packard.

At a press conference announcing Microsoft's expanded relationship with Digital last week, chief executive Bill Gates noted that the doubling of NT-certified engineers at the systems company can only help an understaffed segment of the industry. "The demand exceeds supply," he said.

All the deals have been dominated by an NT focus.

Under terms of the latest agreement, Amdahl's DMR Consulting Group services organization will train up to 1,500 engineers on Microsoft products, provide integration between Amdahl IBM-based host systems and server-based Microsoft BackOffice applications such as the Exchange messaging system, and create several "business solution" centers for demonstrations and planning purposes.

"The customer is looking for vendors who can work together for their benefit," noted David Wright, president and chief executive of Amdahl.

Specific areas of application integration work include migration from host-based messaging, use of Microsoft software for Internet commerce systems deployment, and use of the software giant's SQL Server database to drive adoption of NT-based data warehousing rollouts.

Executives said an initial lab for NT and host integration is up and running in Sunnyvale, California. Other centers are planned for Montreal, Canada, and the New York City area. Future ventures are planned for Frankfurt, Germany, and Dublin, Ireland.

Last September, systems giant Fujitsu completed the purchase of Amdahl by gobbling up the majority of Amdahl's outstanding shares. Fujitsu previously owned 42 percent of the struggling mainframe systems firm.