Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, APM Blog, Elizabeth White, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, IBM Cloud

Open Source Cloud: Article

Open Source Start-up Poses Mainframe Dilemma for IBM

The new would-be mainframe player is a Franco-American start-up called TurboHercules SAS

IBM's paranoid defense of its mainframe monopoly is going to be tested again but this time if it blows the start-up out of the water, or denies it clearance to compete, it'll be messing with an open source operation, and a European open source start-up to boot.

The European Commission, an admitted open source advocate, is already entertaining at least one known complaint about IBM's allegedly anti-competitive behavior in the mainframe market.

The new would-be mainframe player is a Franco-American start-up called TurboHercules SAS.

It wants to commercialize the Hercules open source mainframe emulator that's been in development by a community of IBM mainframers for the last 10 years, and sell it to mainframe shops so they can use x86- or Itanium-based PCs ostensibly for the test and development of mainframe applications.

Hercules is a software implementation of IBM's System/370, ESA/390 and z/Architecture instruction set, but not IBM's companion operating systems, and although Hercules has never been commercialized before, it is, for all intents and purposes, the only existing alternative to IBM.

But right away TurboHercules has got a problem because it needs an IBM operating system and IBM ties its mainframe operating systems to its hardware, a fact that should make it the subject of an antitrust investigation but hasn't lately.

See, IBM is specifically forbidden to tie under the lingering terms of its now-dissolved 1956 consent decree with the United States government.

But IBM has so far evaded capture. Last year it bought Platform Solutions, one of the last companies to sue it for antitrust for tying the OS to the mainframe, to hush the complaint and get PSI's cheaper, z/OS-capable Itanium boxes off the market.

TurboHercules president Bill Miller, an American who used to work for Softway Systems, the Interix Unix-to-NT interoperability shop that Microsoft bought way back when, says that, being incorporated in France, TurboHercules wrote to the head of IBM France in July asking that IBM loosen up its license enough to let the start-up function.

It wants IBM to let its mainframe customers use their 64-bit z/OS, z/VM and z/VSE - or even older 31-bit and 24-bit - operating systems on a TurboHercules configuration as IBM used to permit before its change of policy in 2000. They would pay IBM a reasonable licensing fee for the privilege.

TurboHercules hasn't heard back yet.

Miller says there are mainframe shops and schools that would kill for such a device. Universities that can't afford a mainframe could start teaching mainframe programming again. Mainframe sites could use it for ancillary workloads, training, demonstrations, pre- and post-processing, data preparation and archiving.

Anyway, in the absence of an answer from IBM, TurboHercules turned up at Intel's Developer Forum this week claiming to have found a niche it can occupy in mainframe disaster recovery/business continuity without violating IBM's myriad proscriptions.

It says there's a provision in the IBM license that allows IBM operating system software to run temporarily on an alternate machine in the event the customer's mainframe is inoperable.

TurboHercules doesn't need to touch the IBM OS to back up a system, merely to restore it.

TurboHercules probably can't make a living at such a thing, which would likely be popular only with mainframes that had gone off maintenance, or sites that can't afford a new mainframe, and none of its people have given up their day jobs yet but it's hoping IBM will either voluntarily relent or be finally pushed to it by the regulators.

The start-up says it a press release that it "hopes to benefit from IBM's long-standing support of open source software." In other words it's trying to stick IBM none too subtly between a rock and a hard place.

It wouldn't take much to banter about the conclusion - voiced by T3 Technologies (T3T), once the second-largest mainframe systems integrator in the world, in a still-pending antitrust suit lodged against IBM at the end of 2007 - that Big Blue is nothing but a big fraud and hypocrite and "postures itself as a champion of open systems and standards," demanding that competitors like Microsoft provide reasonable and non-discriminatory access to interoperability information, but won't do it itself.

IBM is said to be sensitive about its image.

Anyway, TurboHercules co-founder Tom Lehmann observes that "In these tough economic times smaller mainframe shops, as well as state and local governments, are looking for ways to reduce costs and still meet their obligations in the event of a disaster."

An unidentified mainframe site has got a prototype TurboHercules backup system installed.

Due to IBM's licensing restrictions, the demo TurboHercules ran at IDF was reportedly limited to IBM's older MVS 3.8j mainframe operating system and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z. There's no problem running z/Linux on the thing. The demo was hosted on Windows Server 2008 on Nehalem and Itanium processors.

Hercules is reportedly spiffier in some respects than its mighty clone.

The widgetry, which can run under Linux, Windows (98, NT, 2000 and XP), Solaris, FreeBSD and Mac OS X (10.3 and later), is supposed to be able to run mainframe apps with the performance of a multi-hundred MIPS mainframe on a single Intel-based server.

Otherwise, TurboHercules means to provide corporate users with commercial services, and provides free downloads and documentation for Hercules installed on Windows and Linux host systems. Its voyage to a recent Share user group meeting suggested that there may be more use of TurboHercules in the corporate world than anybody suspects.

On its web site the start-up says that in the next few months it will be releasing "fully tested commercial distributions to match several real-world scenarios. Our preliminary assessment is that there are several important - albeit not necessarily mission-critical - ways in which Hercules can be deployed in mainframe shops." It will be offering SLAs.

Hercules is available under the Q Public License to avoid what its community called the "political baggage" of the GPL.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...