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Microservices Expo: Article

Neon Asks Judge for Early Decision in IBM Antitrust Case

It’s just asked the court for a partial summary judgment in the case as a matter of law

Neon Enterprise Software, the Texas mainframe ISV suing IBM for antitrust, isn't exactly leaning back in the saddle waiting for the trial to start next June, thanking its lucky stars that the district court - sua sponte - moved the proceedings up nine months.

Nope. It's just asked the court for a partial summary judgment in the case as a matter of law based on evidence it collected during discovery.

Now, unfortunately, because there's one of those consarn confidentiality agreements between the parties - you know how companies love to hide all the juicy embarrassing bits - the 10-page motion and all its attachments are under seal and the seal is so big nobody's even supposed to know what part of the multi-charge case Neon thinks can be resolved without troubling to empanel a jury.

So that leaves guessing.

Since Neon's motion was restricted by the court to only 10 pages it must be going for the really salient point - the one that would let it do business - and that would be its contention that there's no contractual impediment imposed by IBM on its mainframe customers as to what workloads they can run on the specialty processors they bought from IBM.

If so and the judge rules in Neon's favor, the decision would legitimatize the mainframe users' right to run Neon's zPrime software and offload whatever legacy DB2, CICS, IMS, TSO/ISPF and batch workloads they want onto their zAAP and zIIP specially processors (SPs) and run them free of IBM's monthly fees.

See, IBM invented the SPs, which are merely standard mainframe central processors under another name, so as not to lose XML, Java and accelerated DB2 workloads to modern distributed systems and doesn't charge for using them.

Since Neon claims to be able to offload more than half of a mainframe's workloads on to SPs, IBM stands to lose billions of dollars in licensing fees.

That's why it's been making SPs hard to get and insisting that users take a blood oath not to use the things for zPrime, basically changing the terms of existing contracts after the fact and raising the little issue of Clayton Antitrust Act violations. The law says you're not allowed to condition the sale of a product on the buyer not using rival products.

Reports out of Germany this week have IBM telling prospects that, contrary to promises and clearly because of Neon, it's going to charge mainframe users for moving the SPs they already own to the new next-generation zEnterprise z196 mainframe it unveiled this summer unless, of course, they promise to use the SPs the way IBM wants them to be used. If they're good little users it will find an economical solution.

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

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