Mainframe Propeller Head

Mar 24 2010   2:57PM GMT

IBM faces another anti-trust lawsuit in Europe over mainframe practices

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

TurboHercules, a mainframe emulator software company based in France, has joined the list of companies who have filed antitrust complaints against IBM for its mainframe practices.

The company filed a formal complaint against IBM yesterday with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition in Brussels. The complaint accuses IBM of preventing customers from using Hercules, the mainframe emulator software, to run customers’ applications on non-IBM mainframe computers.

TurboHercules joins a group of companies who have filed legal claims about IBM’s mainframe practices, a list which includes the former PSI (which IBM bought), T3 Technologies, and Neon Enterprise Software. All of them make the same basic complaint, that IBM shouldn’t be able to tie its z/OS mainframe operating system so tightly to its mainframe hardware. IBM, meanwhile, contends that it has a right to protect its own intellectual property.

Roger Bowler, co-founder of TurboHercules, wrote in a recent blog postthat he doesn’t consider himself or his company to be an enemy of IBM’s. He just wanted IBM to license its product to TurboHercules’ customers and pay the amount necessary to do so. IBM’s response was that TurboHercules was violating IBM’s intellectual property, and when Bowler asked exactly what property was violated and how, there was no response.

“As the founder of the Hercules project, I can state with confidence that our emulator is in no way an enemy of IBM,” Bowler wrote. “In fact, the Hercules project is made up of some of the biggest mainframe fans on the planet. We are people who have spent our entire careers learning the ins and outs of this architecture, and we want nothing more than to see it thrive far into the future.  Mainframes are now so deeply embedded in the infrastructure of modern society that they are too important to be left in the hands of a single company (IBM).”

“The outcome that we at TurboHercules hope for is a return to the competitive market for mainframe technologies that existed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, where IBM licensed its operating systems to customers of the Plug Compatible Mainframe (PCM) manufacturers such as Hitachi and Fujitsu/Amdahl,” Bowler continued.

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