Mainframe Propeller Head

Jan 22 2009   5:04PM GMT

T3 Technologies pushes forward with complaint of IBM mainframe “monopoly”

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

According to ZDNet, T3 Technologies filed a complaint with the European Commission on Tuesday alleging that IBM was abusing its power in the European mainframe market.

T3 is an alternative mainframe company and one of the only ones out there. Last year, IBM and Platform Solutions Inc., another plug-compatible mainframe vendor, settled their legal battles when IBM announced it was buying PSI, essentially shutting it up.

Since late 2006, PSI had been in back-and-forth lawsuits with IBM in which IBM sued PSI for patent infringement on its z/OS mainframe operating system, and PSI firing back with a countersuit claiming that IBM was shutting out competition by coupling z/OS with its mainframe hardware. The fight was settled with the acquisition, and since then, PSI has vanished. PSI’s web address, www.platform-solutions.com, redirects automatically to IBM’s System z mainframe page. And in IBM’s SEC filing earlier this year that explained the acquisition, Big Blue wrote the following: “PSI’s technologies and skills, along with its intellectual capital, will be integrated into the company’s mainframe product engineering cycles and future product plans.” Which is kind of like saying, “Yes. PSI is pretty much disappearing.”

A Gartner report on the acquisition said that Itanium-based mainframes, which is what PSI was selling, would go the way of the dogs, but that some of its engineering know-how, such as virtualizing I/O across heterogenous environments, could get worked into the System z brand.

Needless to say, that acquisition did not rid IBM of T3. When PSI sued, T3 filed its own motion in support of PSI. T3 had a licensing agreement to resell PSI technology under its Liberty Server brand, and planned to continue to support its existing customer base. Upon the announcement of the IBM acquisition of PSI, T3 Technologies President Steve Friedman said T3 was “not affected by the acquisition of PSI by IBM.”

That may have changed, though, as indicated in the new legal complain that was detailed in the ZDNet story:

IBM is accused of engaging in a range of anti-competitive actions, including “preventing the sales of competing mainframe hardware products by tying the sale of its operating system to its mainframe hardware”. IBM is further accused of “withholding patent licenses and certain intellectual property to the detriment of mainframe customers”.

In its statement, T3 said it sold IBM mainframes but then moved into selling its own products, the Liberty line of mainframes, first developed by Amdahl Corporation, which itself is now part of Fujitsu.

Will T3 go the way of PSI? When I asked Friedman this back in July, he said only that “at the moment, we’re continuing on as we have been and supporting our existing customer base.”

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