back to article IBM countersues Neon over zPrime accelerator

With mainframe revenues off sharply and likely to be so until the System z11 mainframes ship much later this year, IBM can ill afford to look the other way as Neon Software peddles its zPrime tool for offloading mainframe workloads to much cheaper specialty engines on Big Blue's mainframes. So it has called out the lawyers and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    its all about IBM wanting customer to pay more to do the same thing.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Big Brother


      IBM has a lot of merit to their arguments.

      Using their analogy, This is like having a technician say, 'you buy basic cable' and I'll get you the premium channels for free.

      Its actually a good analogy. The whole purpose of their software is to take software applications which run using more expensive mips to run on less expensive mips.

      I was surprised by their DMCA claim, but even that, on the surface, has merit.

      I'm not a fan of the mainframe, and IBM does have a monopoly on the big iron. But thats like saying Terradata has a monopoly on their platforms ... ;-)

      If you don't like IBM's pricing strategy, then move your jobs off the mainframe.

      Either way someone is going to get paid. (Either IBM for the current solution, or the consultant(s) who migrate and rewrite your app).

      Interestingly enough, for most of these legacy apps, a 2 socket 8 core Intel box has more horsepower than the machines that the apps were originally written to run.

      1. Mad Mike

        Analogy Poor

        The analogy is actually pretty poor assuming the software works as claimed. zPrime is supposed to simply change the way a request is made. It say intercepts a DB2 request and changes it (basically to SRB mode) into a zAAP/zIIP allowable workload. Then, the IBM dispatcher duly dispatches on said 'speciality' engine. So, all that's happening is the request being changed before/during execution. There are plenty of software products, including IBMs own that do this sort of thing. According to IBM and their agreements, providing the requests are using the mode(s) etc., they can run on the cheaper engines. How that comes about is irrelevant. Obviously, IBM want only workloads that originally start in the right mode, but nowhere does it specify you can't change it!! zPrime is taking advantage of an obvious hole in IBMs T&Cs. Nothing illegal about that, it's been done for years. If IBM want to outlaw this, they need to change their T&Cs, but no matter what they do, someone will probably always find a way round it. That's the problem with running this sort of multi-cost platform.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    It's realy down to money end of the day

    If money was no object they would go IBM all day long. But one question you have to ask is this: If your software fails to work and causes a huge downtime or some accounting error or anything at all that costs your company huge sums of money, what kind of fallback do you have. As would the software company be sueable for the mistake if its running on the hardware they sold it for or would they be able to go, we support it on this hardware only, you waived your rights once you stopped doing that. So it's realy down to money, a little bit of faith and alot of balls.

    Guess this is a no brainer for seagull managment types who like to make noise and get the hell out of dodge before it all goes wrong.

    Now somebody do me a Honeywell Bull GCOS8 emulator, i'm feeling nostalgic. Chuck in a ICL George III as well, lub that spv command :).

  3. Kebabbert


    Yes, it sounds reasonable with the cable TV analogy. But at the same time, if I buy a computer, am I not entitled to stuff in whatever hardware I want, or which software I want? Must I only use IBMs hardware? If I buy a car, can I not stuff in a stereo from some other manufacturer? The car manufacturer can say "we can not support or guarantee if you use other components than ours".

    IBM seem to claim that you can only use IBM stuff? In other words, IBM is trying to uphold monopoly. If IBM did not have monopoly, then IBM wouldnt care if you jacked in other hardware. But this zPrime essentially threatens IBM monopoly, that is why IBM fights so hard.

    I never liked monopoly myself. It is better for the customers with competition.

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      The title

      Kababbert, as so often, you don´t understand:

      You are entiteled to run anything you want. Thats what the general purpose CPU are for.

      But if IBM sells you a speciality engine to run certain workloads faster/cheaper and you decide to run everything on these engines, you are efectively bypassing the licence agreement for your speciality engine.

  4. cschneid

    Capacity based pricing

    The root problem is capacity based pricing. That, and the tug-of-war between vendors (including IBM) wanting to squeeze as much money out of their customers as possible and the customers wanting to pay £0,00 for software. But that's present in most markets.

    Get rid of the abomination that is capacity based pricing and there is no need for specialty processors, z/Prime doesn't have a raison d'être, and everyone lives happily ever after in mainframe-land. Neon's obviously talented staff can write some other clever and useful product.

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    not assinine

    IBMs argument that they are not a monopoly is not assinine. For legal purposes a monopoly complaint does not just indicate dominance in the market, but also Microsoftian tactics to maintain the monopoly. IBMs competitors voluntarily left the mainframe market (in 90s) when sales temporarily dipped, and IBM is not preventing anyone from designing their own mainframes and software and entering the market.

  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    IBM will splurge again.

    There'll be lots of noise and kerfuffle, lawyers will run around screaming and threatening, then Big Blue will open up its coffers and swallow up Neon, just like it did with PSI and a host of other threats to their mainframe monopoly. Maybe the Neon software will then be carefully rewritten as a migration tool inside IBM's mainframe software range, as long as it doesn't threaten capacity pricing, otherwise it will be DOA right after the purchase. IBM does not allow any threat to the mainframe moneymaker to live for long.

  7. Volker Hett

    Yes, IBM has a monopoly on mainframes

    but not on computers. Like Audi has a monopoly on Lamgorhinis but not on supercars.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      Lamborghinis maybe, but you could probably trademark Lamgorhinis yourself.

      The monopoly on 360/370 family mainframes is, as Henry Wertz points out, not enforced by IBM. The plug compatible manufacturers simply left the market. It was as though everybody but Ford stopped making cars.

      I've heard it expressed that the 370 was the first open computer platform. IBM published the 370 Principals of Operations (POO), which documented the complete workings of the CPU, channel structure and I/O processors that enabled the whole PCM market, exploited by Amdahl, Fujitsu and Hitachi, to name just a few.

  8. Kebabbert

    Volker Hett

    But many people says that IBM has in practice, monopoly on Mainframe market. You mean this is not true? Which other Mainframe vendors are out there, selling Mainframes?

    Matt Bryant,

    I think this is the first time I agree with you! :o) It sounds reasonable that IBM will buy this company (as before) and then continue their monopoly.

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