Mainframe Propeller Head


February 18, 2010  6:56 PM

Neon names names in amended mainframe complaint against IBM

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Neon Enterprise Software has amended its complaint claiming unfair mainframe business practices by IBM, this time naming the names of Neon customers and potential customers that IBM has warned against using Neon’s zPrime software.

  Links:

  Files:

The amended 44-page complaint lists Honda, Daimler-Benz, Federal Express, Home Depot and Experian, among others, as potential users of zPrime who have felt the heat of IBM pressuring them to avoid zPrime. Neon claims these are intimidation methods by IBM to “crush” Neon.

The suit stems from Neon’s zPrime software, which allows users to offload workloads from the mainframe’s central processors to specialty mainframe processors. This in itself isn’t unusual, but what zPrime does is allow users to offload more work to these specialty processors than IBM intended, which saves them money because software licensing rules that apply on the main processors don’t apply on the specialty ones. In its lawsuit, Neon claims that IBM’s unlawful actions could cost potential Neon customers “billions” of dollars in software licensing fees.

Neon filed its initial complaint in December. IBM then responded last month, arguing that Neon is encouraging its users to violate agreements with Big Blue. It compared what Neon is doing to a “crafty technician who promises, for a fee, to rig your cable box so you can watch premium TV channels without paying the cable company. Even if it could be accomplished technically, it is neither lawful nor ethical.”

IBM also made counterclaims, and asked the court not only to dismiss Neon’s claims, but also to force Neon to stop selling zPrime, give Neon’s zPrime profits to IBM, and award IBM any other damages that the court sees fit.

In Neon’s amended complaint, it lists several companies and their correspondence with IBM over the zPrime software. Here are some, directly from the complaint. First, Honda:

Shortly after Neon announced the release of zPrime, an IBM salesperson explained to a representative of Honda, the global automobile manufacturer, that “IBM would look to make an example of the first companies that bought zPrime.”

Daimler-Benz:

In September 2009, IBM made the same assertion that zPrime is illegal to the
U.S. subsidiary of Daimler-Benz.

Federal Express:

In September 2009, a representative from Federal Express told Neon that the company was rethinking its decision to go ahead with zPrime because had IBM informed it that such action would result in a change to FedEx’s licensing charges.

Home Depot:

Also in September 2009, U.S. home-goods retailer Home Depot reported to Neon that “IBM is putting a full court scare tactics on us right now [sic].”

Experian:

Following a visit from an IBM executive in September 2009, U.S. credit reporting bureau Experian wrote to Neon, stating:

Just so you know, Experian will not be pursuing a formal contract with Neon because of potential IBM billing issues which could arise from utilizing Neon’s zPrime software. At this time, Experian does not wish to risk this type of distraction from IBM. Due to your efforts, we have proven Neon’s technology is sound and functions as designed. Plus, we have demonstrated Neon is a great company and maybe someday in the future we will consider zPrime or other Neon DB2 utilities.

Check out the sidebar for all our related stories and files on the IBM/Neon saga.

February 18, 2010  4:15 PM

IBM to start DB2 10 for z/OS beta program on March 12

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM announced last week that it will start a beta program for DB2 version 10 for z/OS on March 12.

Here are some features of DB2 10 for z/OS, straight from the announcement letter:

  • CPU reductions for all workloads.
  • Five to 10 times more concurrent users on a single subsystem by avoiding memory constraints.
  • Greater concurrency for data management, data definition, and data access, including DDL, BIND, REBIND, PREPARE, utilities, and SQL.
  • Additional online changes for data definitions, utilities, and subsystems.
  • Improved security with improved granularity for administrative privileges, data masking, and audit capabilities.
  • Temporal or versioned data to understand system and business times at the database level.
  • pureXML™ and SQL enhancements to improve portability from other database solutions.
  • Productivity improved for database administrators, application programmers, and systems administrators.
  • Enhancements in QMF™ Classic Edition that allow greater interoperability with other programs as well as features that improve queries, forms, certain commands, diagnostics, performance, and resource control. QMF Enterprise Edition provides even more value, including support for QMF-based dashboards and visually rich page-based reports; enhanced QMF security model for access control and personalization; support for HTML, PDF, or Flash QMF report and dashboard output formats; and a QMF metadata layer simplifies content authoring.

You need at least a z890 or later running z/OS V1.10 or later to take part in the beta program. The announcement letter does not say when DB2 10 for z/OS will be generally available, or how much it will cost, or when DB2 8 will go out of service.

Trevor Eddolls at Mainframe Update has written about the DB2 10 beta program, paraphrasing IBM claims “that compared to previous DB2 versions, some customers can achieve a 5% to 10% out-of-the-box CPU savings for traditional workloads and up to 20% out-of-the-box CPU savings for non-traditional workloads.” Eddolls continues:

IBM also suggests that productivity improvements in DB2 10 for database and system administrators can drive additional operational efficiencies and cost savings. Synergy with other System z platform components reduces CPU use by leveraging the latest processor improvement,s larger amounts of memory, solid-state disk and z/OS enhancements.

Willie Favero, an IBM software specialist, wrote about the new DB2 features in his IT Toolbox blogas well. Here’s what Favero had to say on performance improvements for DB2 10 for z/OS:

A few examples of the performance stuff you get in DB2 10 at no “cost” (no changes to applications), and this list is far from including everything, are: parallel index update at insert, index list prefetch, LOB streaming between DDF and DB2, faster single row retrievals through open/fetch/close chaining, high performance database access threads (DBATs), SQL procedure language performance improvements, improved SQL runtime efficiency, and more…


January 29, 2010  5:55 PM

IBM responds to Neon Software mainframe lawsuit

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM has responded to Neon Enterprise Software’s lawsuit claiming unfair competitive practices related to the mainframe, saying the company is encouraging its users to violate agreements with Big Blue.

  Links:

  Files:

IBM’s 37-page response is actually longer than Neon’s 24-page lawsuit, which was filed in Austin, Tex. District Court in December. Neon’s main claims were that IBM wasn’t playing fair by trying to limit competition and intimidating prospective Neon clients. The original suit stemmed from Neon’s zPrime software, which allows users to offload workloads from the mainframe’s central processors to specialty mainframe processors. This in itself isn’t unusual, but what zPrime does is allow users to offload more work to these specialty processors than IBM intended, which saves them money because software licensing rules that apply on the main processors don’t apply on the specialty ones.

In its lawsuit, Neon claimed that IBM’s unlawful actions could cost potential Neon customers more than $1 billion in software licensing fees.

IBM has now shot back, however, saying that the issue is really about Neon’s “attempted hijacking of IBM’s intellectual property.” IBM compared what Neon is doing to a “crafty technician who promises, for a fee, to rig your cable box so you can watch premium TV channels without paying the cable company. Even if it could be accomplished technically, it is neither lawful nor ethical.”

Big Blue isn’t stopping at defending its practices, however, which Neon called a “monopoly” in its original lawsuit. Instead, IBM is making counterclaims and asking the court not only to dismiss Neon’s claims, but also to force Neon to stop selling zPrime, give Neon’s zPrime profits to IBM, and award IBM any other damages that the court sees fit.

Why does all this matter? Software licensing on the central processors (CP) is expensive. For large organizations, it costs millions of dollars per year.

In part to ease this pricing pain and keep its customers from moving work off the mainframe, IBM introduced specialty processors such as the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL), the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP), and the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP). Though the specialty processors are the same physical hardware as the central processors, what IBM intended to have customers runs on each was different.

Big Blue’s intention was to allow some z/OS workloads – Linux, DB2, and Java – to move to these specialty processors, where software licensing was free. The processors have become popular among mainframers, in particular the IFL and zIIP. Meanwhile, IBM wanted mainframers to keep their legacy applications on z/OS on the central processors, where licensing fees were still huge.

Neon bucked those intentions. At the end of June, it announced its zPrime software, claiming that mainframers could offload more than just database and Java workloads to the zIIP and zAAP. And then the war of words began. IBM started warning customers that zPrime could cause mainframers to violate software agreements they had with IBM. Neon disagreed. The verbal back-and-forth continued for a few months. Now, it’s a legal back-and-forth.


January 28, 2010  9:41 PM

CA names new CEO: Bill McCracken

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

CA’s board of directors has selected Bill McCracken as the company’s next CEO. McCracken has been serving as executive chairman of CA since John Swainson announced in September that he planned to retire by the end of 2009.

McCracken, 67, joined CA’s board of directors in 2005 and became non-executive chairman in 2007.  Prior to joining CA, McCracken held numerous executive positions at IBM during his 36-year tenure, most recently as a member of the Chairman’s Worldwide Management Council and general manager of IBM’s printing division.  He previously served as president of IBM’s EMEA and Asia PC Company and as general manager of marketing, sales and distribution for IBM PC Company.

Check out this video of McCracken in December talking about opportunities in clean technology.

At the same time, CA announced quarterly financial results, saying revenue had increased 8% over the same quarter last year. It said saw “significant” demand for its Mainframe 2.0 products, identity and access management software, and its CA Wily application performance management tools.


January 20, 2010  7:52 PM

Mainframe revenue tanks

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

IBM announced its fourth-quarter results yesterday, and the bad news for the System z mainframe is that revenues tanked 27% from the fourth quarter of 2008.

According to the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission filing yesterday:

Revenues from System z mainframe server products decreased 27 percent compared with the year-ago period.  Total delivery of System z computing power, which is measured in MIPS (millions of instructions per second), decreased 19 percent.

 As you can see from the graphic above, System z was the worst performing hardware segment in IBM’s Systems and Technology Group.

The new mainframe, probably to be called the z11, is estimated to be out in the second half of this year.


January 19, 2010  12:02 PM

Unplugging the mainframe at the House

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The U.S. House of Representatives obviously wants to defend its decision to unplug its last mainframe, and so it has produced this video:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/b71EJGsZS8I" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


December 15, 2009  2:07 PM

Neon Enterprise Software sues IBM over mainframe software practices

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The battle between Neon Software and IBM over mainframe software practices, which has been escalating since early summer, has now hit the court system.

  Links:

  Files:

Neon Enterprise Software filed the 24-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Austin, Tex. yesterday, claiming unfair competition and intimidation of prospective clients for Neon. The suit stems from Neon’s zPrime software, which allows users to offload workloads from the mainframe’s central processors to specialty mainframe processors. This in itself isn’t unusual, but what zPrime does is allow users to offload more work to these specialty processors than IBM intended.

In its lawsuit, Neon claims that IBM’s unlawful actions could cost potential Neon customers more than $1 billion in software licensing fees.

Neon also throws around the word “monopoly” and “locked-in” in regards to IBM’s control of the mainframe market and mainframers’ reliance on IBM. There is no doubt that these statements tap into other complaints about IBM’s mainframe practices.

In particular, there were lawsuits by Platform Solutions Inc. (now owned by IBM) and T3 Technologies, which were selling plug-compatible mainframes that could run z/OS on Intel’s Itanium processor. IBM has essentially shut them down by not licensing z/OS for those alternative mainframes. In addition, the U.S. Justice Department is now investigating whether IBM owns a monopoly in the mainframe market.

Why does all this matter? Software licensing on the central processors (CP) is expensive. For large organizations, it costs millions of dollars per year.

In part to ease this pricing pain and keep its customers from moving work off the mainframe, IBM introduced specialty processors such as the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL), the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP), and the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP). Though the specialty processors are the same physical hardware as the central processors, what IBM intended to have customers runs on each was different.

Big Blue’s intention was to allow some z/OS workloads – Linux, DB2, and Java – to move to these specialty processors, where software licensing was free. The processors have become popular among mainframers, in particular the IFL and zIIP. Meanwhile, IBM wanted mainframers to keep their legacy applications on z/OS on the central processors, where licensing fees were still huge.

Neon bucked those intentions. At the end of June, it announced its zPrime software, claiming that mainframers could offload more than just database and Java workloads to the zIIP and zAAP. And then the war of words began. IBM started warning customers that zPrime could cause mainframers to violate software agreements they had with IBM. Neon disagreed. This back-and-forth continued for a few months until yesterday, when it appears Neon had had enough and filed the lawsuit.


December 10, 2009  10:52 AM

IBM continues push of Linux on the System z mainframe

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

This week IBM continued pushing Linux on the System z mainframe, offering a Linux-based mainframethat comes pre-built with z/VM and other Linux-related features.

The starting price, for a Business Class machine with two IFLs, is $212,000 and ramps up from there.

The announcement is the latest of IBM’s System z Solution Editions, which it started pushing out late this summer and which already include bundled packages for disaster recovery, data warehousing, security and a few others. This one, for Linux, can be considered especially important considering IBM’s claim that almost half (3,000 of 6,300) unique applications on the System z mainframe are on Linux. It has clearly been a growth segment of the stagnant mainframe market, with zLinux growing 100% in the last two years, according to IBM.

The System z Solution Edition for Enterprise Linuxincludes from two to 64 Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processors, which are geared toward running Linux specifically, as well as memory, I/O connectivity, and the z/VM virtualization operating system that runs under Linux. All of this can go on either a z10 Enterprise (bigger) or Business (smaller) Class machine. The solution can include running Linux alongside z/OS or just Linux only. They include 3-5 years of hardware maintenance, 3-5 years of software support, and partnerships with Novell SUSE and Red Hat Linux distros.


December 7, 2009  2:03 PM

More about the mainframe and cloud computing

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

James Governor, an analyst at Red Monk, writes about how major IT vendors are now pushing their consolidated architectures – what some might call unified computing – as great solutions for cloud computing. The only problem, Governor concludes, is that the mainframe has been doing this for decades.

Governor is not saying that the mainframe is necessarily a great cloud computing machine. In fact, he thinks that cloud computing is “definitely not a hardware story, except in as much as it fundamentally changes the way we consume system resources.” He brings this up to explain his disappointment at a recent EMC analyst event, where they were pushing the integration with CIsco and VMware as some boon to cloud computing, the foundations of which are so-called Vblocks.

But it wasn’t clear how enterprise compute purchasing is actually simplified with Vblocks. Frankly an enterprise could buy an IBM System z mainframe and it would be just like a Vblock- a fully-virtualised, pre-tested, pretested solution based on IBM software and gear. IBM doesn’t have a TotalStorage, System p and WebSphere coalition.


November 30, 2009  2:36 PM

Compuware announces $1 million mainframe contest

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Mainframe software provider Compuware is offering a $1 million prize to someone who best praises the company’s mainframe software.

The Detroit-based company is handing out free assessments to potential customers to determine what they think are the best ways to improve application and system performance.

The contest is open to all Compuware customers who maintain a software maintenance contract with the company through the process of the competition. Customers will be able to submit their stories online until Nov. 30, 2010. Compuware will then select the grand prize winner, which will get $1 million “cash,” as the company put it. There will also be nine runners-up who will get a $100,000 credit toward the purchase of a new software license from Compuware.

“Participants will be able to enter short stories about how Compuware’s mainframe solutions have saved them money or helped them avoid some kind of a problem,” said Rose Rowe, VP of mainframe strategy. “There is no limit to the number of stories. We would encourage employees of customers to submit as many and as often as they would like.”

The company didn’t have a link for me for submitting the stories, and I couldn’t find it going through the Compuware site. Hopefully they’ll have something up soon.


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