TurboHercules complaint gets proprietary support

TurboHercules complaint gets proprietary support

Summary: The efforts by open source TurboHercules to break IBM's mainframe monopoly through the European Commission got some proprietary support this week when NEON Enterprise Software LLC of Austin, Tex. filed an EU complaint alongside a U.S. antitrust lawsuit.

TOPICS: Servers, Hardware

The efforts by open source TurboHercules to break IBM's mainframe monopoly through the European Commission got some proprietary support this week when NEON Enterprise Software LLC of Austin, Tex. filed an EU complaint alongside a U.S. antitrust lawsuit.

NEON was founded by BMC Software co-founder John Moores, so even if you have never heard of it, they have the money to pursue the case.

The TurboHercules effort has drawn rejections from the Linux Foundation and Groklaw, both of which insist IBM has a perfect right to protect its intellectual property.

But the effort has a European cheering section in Florian Mueller of FOSSPatents, who expects the European Commission to make a decision on whether to proceed against both these complaints, and one filed by T3 Technologies, in the next few months.

What NEON and TurboHercules have in common is that both are victims of IBM's bullying tactics.

Both just want to provide mainframe customers with much-needed cost-effective choice for their legacy software: hundreds of billions of lines of program code that are still in use, a very large part of it written in COBOL. NEON's zPrime software makes such legacy workloads eligible for execution on lower-cost (but fully functional) coprocessors. TurboHercules emulates the mainframe (System z) CPU on Intel servers.

But IBM wants to milk its locked-in mainframe customer base, hugely overcharging for everything that's needed to run legacy software.

Those facts do not appear to be in dispute. What's at issue is whether IBM is doing anything wrong.

Mueller says they are, and says their credibility on open source should be under question as a result. Pamela Jones of Groklaw and Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation say they are not.

I don't know. Not being an international lawyer, my opinion doesn't count in either case. But is this hurting IBM in the open source community? Something to THINK about.

Topics: Servers, Hardware

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  • RE: TurboHercules complaint gets proprietary support

    Are we discussing the correct problem here? I think the real issue is that corporations, hospitals, banks, and government entities laid off their software developers as quickly as they could, which is as soon as the COBOL application did most of what was required of it. The legacy applications could have been ported, cross compiled, or re-written, as required to run efficiently on ever evolving hardware. I think there are guys still hawking refurbished Control Data computers, so some DMV office can issue new vehicle tags with their 40 year old software. Yes, I know banks in particular are loath to trust anyone to write new programs for them, but the new programs can be properly audited, bonded and verified, and the banks would be so pleased with the new features and ease of use. Looks like the money saved on not employing skilled programmers, end up going to IBM for legacy support anyway.

    I appreciate the position IBM has taken, but rather than perpetuate dinosaurs, maybe they should buy TurboHercules, or better yet, develop a strategy to sell services that make the demand for a product like TurboHercules, disappear.
    • RE: TurboHercules complaint gets proprietary support

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  • RE: TurboHercules complaint gets proprietary support

    IBM has always managed their IP in such a way to benfit most from its gradual release. They traditionally market the products from their vault only when competition or economic necessity demands. This is their right.

    On the other hand this can be a double-edged sword, as proved by their loss of command of the PC industry. When they haven't managed IP well, as with allowing competition from Amdahl, Hitatchi and others, they have had to fight for years to regain their losses. This did force them to accelerate release of IP (such as migration to CMOS-based z/Series processors).

    As a z/Series sysprog, I would greatly benefit from the ability to run z/VM, z/OS, z/VSE, z/TPF, and z/Linux in test on TurboHercules and I believe it would result in benefits to my client base. Not knowing the zPrime product, I suspect that its use would also increase retention of the mainframe, perhaps at some licensing cost to IBM. Apparently, IBM has determined that the risk to their cash flow is greater than the potential long-term survival (perhaps they feel their very robust Intel blade systems in the x/Series and Unix systems in the p/Series will capture some of the customers from z/Series).

    It remains to be seen whether IBM's perception and reaction are apt, or whether they will choke their mainframe business the same way they killed their desktop business. I think management (not just IBM, but all corporate management these days) tends to focus only on near-term profit and has forgotten that the customer is always right.