Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: IBM Cloud, Microservices Expo

IBM Cloud: Article

IBM Turns the Screws on zPrime

Mark Anzani recently sent an IBM mainframe customer a letter meant to scare it

IBM News on Ulitzer

IBM System z CTO and resident spook Mark Anzani recently sent an IBM mainframe customer a letter meant to scare it into seeing the boogeyman under its bed and make sure it doesn't use Neon Enterprise Software's zPrime technology to reduce its mainframe costs.

The customer wants to buy IBM's Specialty Engines for its mainframes, the so-called zIIP and zAAP processors that IBM created to accelerate and run DB2 and Java on. IBM doesn't want to fill the order unless the customer promises in writing not to use the chips to run the workloads that the zPrime software can offload to the things. It will save the customer millions of dollars in CP cycles and IBM doesn't like that.

Neon claims zPrime can offload more than half a mainframe's workloads to the specialty processors, including IMB, DB2, CICS, TSO/ISPF and batch workloads, cutting 20% of a user's annual hardware and software costs under conventional use pricing because the chips incur no usage charges. The savings would extend to third-party software.

The letter, which is here and isn't very long, says:

"As we have reason to be concerned you intend to utilize Specialty Engines to process unauthorized workload (workload beyond that for which the Specialty Engine was created and marketed by IBM), which would constitute a breach of the license, we will fulfill the specialty engines per your order only if you provide reasonable assurances you will comply with our agreements. Please confirm that you will operate these engines in compliance with your existing agreements with IBM, and specifically including that you will not run any workload on these specialty engines other than those workloads expressly designated by IBM as eligible and authorized to run on these processors."

The customer forwarded the letter to Neon, which only released zPrime on June 30.

Neon CEO Lacy Edwards had heard that IBM was asking users verbally for such an undertaking but this was the first time he had seen it written down.

He said it means that IBM wants to close the glaring loophole that it left opened, and that Neon is exploiting, by changing the terms of the existing contract its customers signed after the fact.

As mainframe users know, this is not the first time that IBM has changed hallowed terms and conditions to ensure its mainframe cash flow.

Since ending its undertaking with the European Commission and consent decree with the Justice Department a decade ago, IBM has forced users to upgrade to its newer mainframe operating systems; ceased maintaining anything but 64-bit hardware; stopped providing the critical interface information it used to supply to plug-compatible manufacturers (PCMs); and has in general erected insurmountable barriers for anyone to enter the IBM-compatible mainframe market.

For instance, when a start-up called Platform Solutions Inc (PSI) threatened to take away some of IBM's mainframe business with its Amdahl-derived, z/OS-running Itanium system, IBM changed its sacred, long-standing RAND patent policy and dropped the words "or equivalent" from its z/OS license so the operating system could only run on its proprietary System z machines.

But getting back to the problem at hand, Anzani's latest letter pointed the customer to a posted copy of the IBM License Agreement for Machine Code that he said governs the use of Specialty Engines and two product announcements letters also on IBM's web site that he said summarize the eligible workloads.

Lawyers for both Neon and the mainframe customer reviewed Anzani's letter, the IBM License Agreement for Machine Code and the product announcements and concluded that IBM's bluffing.

There's nothing in any of the documents quoted by the IBM CTO that restricts what a user can run on the specialty processors. The IBM license, the lawyers told Edwards, has no bearing on Neon; zPrime isn't in violation.

The lawyers are so certain of their position that one of them reportedly told the mainframe customer it might as well go ahead and give IBM the assurances it wants because it won't impact its use of zPrime. It can keep on using it.

The customer reportedly isn't going to do that however. Instead it's planning on having a showdown with IBM and going belly-to-belly with the titan. What will happen is anybody's guess. There's a big gap between saying you're not scared of IBM and spitting in its Big Blue eye.

IBM's an old hand at the art of intimidation. A generation ago ex-IBMer Gene Amdahl, who dared to go into competition with IBM with his own mainframe company, coined the term "FUD" to describe the fear, uncertainty and doubt that IBM used to dominate the industry. Thirty-five years later and nothing much has changed.

Neon users to a man are currently afraid to admit publicly that they have zPrime in their shop for fear of the repercussions such a confession could have even if they know that stripping away the veil of secrecy will lessen IBM's hold over them.

Gen Xs and Ys, most of whom don't know what real fear is, have flipply applied the term to Microsoft. Microsoft never made grown men afraid the way IBM has.

IBM has sent the first monthly bills to customers that are in production with zPrime and they're a lot lower than they used to be. Edwards has had reports that IBM is now demanding to do audits and suspending annual Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) negotiations. It's threatening, he said, to send bills that cover its shortfall and customers are reportedly telling IBM it has no right to do that.

On July 10, a few days after Neon went to market, Anzani wrote a letter to all mainframe customers suggesting zPrime wasn't legal and warning them "regarding any claimed ability to reduce IBM Program license charges by off-loading workloads to Specialty Engines beyond the eligible workload identified by IBM. IBM's applicable pricing terms governing Eligible Workloads on zIIPs and zAAPs will not apply to zIIPs and zAAPs running anything other than IBM-specified eligible workloads. Therefore, customers should not anticipate any reduction (and may actually experience an increase) in the IBM Program License Charges associated with non-Eligible Workloads which may be off-loaded to IBM Specialty Engines, since the non-Eligible Workload running will cause the software running on the Specialty Engine to be chargeable. IBM cannot comment on the potential impact on the software charges from other third-party software providers." (See here for the whole letter.)

What's really odd about this situation is IBM's brass is in the face of a fresh antitrust investigation by the Justice Department, since it seems what it's doing is a clear case of abusing its monopoly, price gouging and requiring customers of its operating system to use only IBM hardware, a serious antitrust no-no and something IBM is specifically forbidden to do under the lingering terms of its now-dissolved 1956 consent decree with the United States government.

IBM's actions are reminiscent of behavior that has landed other tech giants in antitrust hot water.

Intel just paid AMD $1.25 billion so it wouldn't have to face the threat of treble damages in the antitrust suit that AMD brought against it - and that was after getting hit with a $1.45 billion antitrust fine from the European Commission. It still may have to face action by the US Federal Trade Commission, the sister agency to the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

And one can argue that Microsoft incurred the wrath of the European Commission for less and paid handsomely for it.

Ironically, IBM demanded Microsoft provide reasonable and non-discriminatory interoperability access to its technology but won't do that itself.

Edwards says IBM's schoolyard bullying merely compensates Blue for its own deep-seated insecurity and that zPrime has got IBM spooked. Since IBM can't hit Neon with the patent claims it made against PSI before IBM buried the upstart by buying it, zPrime is the mainframe establishment's best chance at changing its future, he contends.

IBM's posturing didn't stop Neon from upgrading zPrime a few days ago.

Version 1.2 is supposed to simplify and streamline the offloading of programs and applications to specialty processors, while providing greater control in selecting which application workloads are shifted to the things.

Neon says a new Enablement Console lets users select the applications and programs they want to move for processing on zIIPs and zAAPs during the critical and costly peak periods.

And a Language Environment (LE) Initialization Exit automatically enables all LE-compliant applications, which means almost all the legacy mainframe applications around.

Richard Ptak, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates, says using zPrime doesn't sacrifice functionality or disrupt mainframe environments in any way,

Neon currently claims 14 companies are now in production with zPrime and that since the software was announced nearly 50 organizations around the world - including some of the world's largest corporations - have tested, documented and validated its cost savings.

On average, it says, these companies have been able to offload 90% of their Information Management System (IMS) application processing; 90% of their batch application processing; 80% of their DB2 application processing; 75 % of their TSO/ISPF application processing; and 45% of their Customer Information Control System (CICS) applications.

Edwards says, "This incredibly rapid adoption reflects how much companies - and how many of them - want to reduce the high costs of mainframe computing."

This piece appeared first on OpenMainframe.org at http://openmainframe.org/featured-articles/ibm-turns-the-screws-on-zprime.html.

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
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...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
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, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"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...
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...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy high-performance Java applications that use Java 3D and/or Jogl without having to run an installer. We are subject to the constraint that the applications be signed and deployed so that they can be run in a trusted environment (i.e., outside of the sandbox). Further, we seek to do this in a way that does not depend on bundling a JRE with our applications, as this makes downloads and installations rat...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"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...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...