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NEC, HP sign server deal

NEC and HP will cooperate in the development of software and an operating system for Unix-based servers intended for the Japanese market.

Japan's NEC Computer (NIPNY) and Hewlett-Packard (HWP) announced they will cooperate in the development of software and an operating system for Unix-based servers intended for sale in the Japanese market.

NEC and HP will work together to improve the scientific calculation functions of HP-UX, HP's version of the Unix operating system, according to a report in the online version of Nikkei Business Publications. The duo will also cooperate in developing scientific applications and a suite of development tools.

NEC will benefit from HP's expertise in scientific programming, while HP should gain from NEC's established ties in selling to government and research organizations in Japan, Nikkei reported. NEC is currently the Asian country's top server vendor, with 30 percent of the market.

NEC could also benefit from HP's continuing cooperation with Intel regarding the chipmaker's development of its next-generation, 64-bit processor, according to Dataquest analyst Jerry Sheridan. The powerful "Merced" chip is expected in 1999.

The two companies have a track record of cooperation in the Unix-based server market. In February 1995, NEC and HP agreed to jointly develop large-scale Unix servers, and in March of this year, they extended that relationship by agreeing to work together on the development of an HP-UX-based machine. Further, in November 1995, NEC inked a sales deal with Convex Computer, a company that was subsequently purchased by HP.

The news follows yesterday's announcement that Microsoft and Fujitsu will cooperate in the marketing of servers based on the Intel-Windows NT platform, machines that compete with servers based on the more established Unix OS. The agreement, aimed at helping Fujitsu challenge NEC while growing the market for Microsoft's Windows NT OS, is another demonstration that U.S. firms are choosing to pair with Japanese firms to gain entry into an insular but lucrative market.

"We've seen a lot of Japanese companies make partnerships with American companies," Sheridan noted, adding that the agreements generally work both ways. "There are instances of [American firms] expanding their technology and marketing thrust into Japan, and also Japanese companies are moving into North American and European markets."