How IBM hopes to make the cloud proprietary

Summary:IBM hopes to embrace and extend the cloud into its mainframe monopoly, and keep filing patents on the technology so as to make it an eternal lock on the top end of the business.

Asia Dent (right) must be the most famous face in Poughkeepsie today.

She was photographed by IBM PR recently putting a probe to a new 5.2 GHz chip that is at the heart of the company's new zEnterprise mainframe, shipping next week.

Florian Mueller calls this the most dangerous product announcement of the century. That's because zEnterprise could let IBM create a cloud monopoly among large enterprises, assimilating Linux under its mainframe patents.

All this goes back to the Turbo Hercules case, he writes.

You may recall that Turbo Hercules is an IBM mainframe emulator that works on PC-type hardware. When it was a labor of love IBM had no problem with it. When its maker tried to productize it, in the way other open source projects are productized, IBM's lawyers were on him in a flash.

Hercules founder Roger Bowler then filed a complaint with the EC's antitrust authorities, saying IBM was illegally tying its mainframe software to hardware.

The new chip makes those chains less burdensome to customers. They've got the fastest chip in the world on their side. And if you're processing bank or credit card transactions (or health claims) that's a very big deal.

This kind of transaction processing continues to grow rapidly. IBM has driven everyone out of the old mainframe business. Nearly everyone in the space -- all the biggest global trade enterprises -- have their key functions riding on IBM mainframes.

They're thrilled with the new IBM mainframes.

Which means that if any scaled enterprise is going into the cloud, it's taking its mainframe with it. IBM has kindly allowed this new mainframe to assimilate what Linux and Unix can do, without offering any way back.

It's precisely what critics were accusing Microsoft Sharepoint of doing, but under complete patent protection and control.

In this way, IBM hopes to embrace and extend the cloud into its mainframe monopoly, and keep filing patents on the technology so as to make it an eternal lock on the top end of the business, Mueller writes.

Who is going to rewrite their core processing systems in order to gain the price benefits of true cloud technology?

Which may be why IBM doesn't want to step up to the plate and be an open source hero.

Topics: IBM

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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