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Microsoft-Backed Firm Says IBM Is Anticompetitive 174

Posted by timothy
from the ibm's-suffered-under-the-antitrust-whip-before dept.
BBCWatcher writes "Microsoft has long claimed that the mainframe is dead, slain by the company's Windows monopoly. Yet, apparently without any mirror nearby, Microsoft is now complaining through the Microsoft-funded Computer & Communications Industry Association that not only are mainframes not dead, but IBM is so anticompetitive that governments should intervene in the hyper-competitive server market. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is worried that the trend toward cloud computing is introducing competition to the Windows franchise, favoring better-positioned companies including IBM and Cisco. HP now talks about almost nothing but the IBM mainframe, with no Tukwila CPUs to sell until 2010. The global recession is encouraging more mainframe adoption as businesses slash IT costs, dominated by labor costs, and improve business execution. In 2008, IBM mainframe revenues rose 12.5% even whilst mainframe prices fell. (IBM shipped 25% more mainframe capacity than in 2007. Other server sales reports are not so good.) IBM mainframes can run multiple operating systems concurrently, including Linux and, more recently, OpenSolaris."
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Microsoft-Backed Firm Says IBM Is Anticompetitive

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  • by zazenation (1060442) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:20AM (#28480271)

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    • Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

      Yeah, but you know... they could be right.

      Say I'm littering in your front yard. Then you start playing obnoxiously loud music in the middle of the night.

      Should I be barred from suing you for being a nuisance, just because I'm a nuisance myself?

      If you argue yes, I think the reasoning becomes even thinner than I think it has to be for that case when we're talking about this:

      One party does something bad towards not any one particular party but society as a whole. Then, another party points to the first party and says "they're doing it, so we can do it to" and go on to do something bad against society.

      True, Microsoft isn't on the moral high ground, but that doesn't excuse IBM. And it doesn't make it incorrect for Microsoft to point it out. Just... the weird kind of funny.

      disclaimer: I don't know the facts of the case. I don't know whether IBM is being anticompetitive. I'm not well-enough informed to hold an informed opinion, so I won't state one. I'm just saying that if IBM is being anticompetitive...

      • by cabjf (710106) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:00AM (#28480663)
        The sad part is that IBM only became a monopoly in the mainframe market because no one else wanted to make and sell them anymore. So now people are thinking about mainframes again for things like cloud computer and suddenly the argument is that IBM is not allowing competition in the market. Maybe if other companies didn't abandon the mainframe market, there would be more than just IBM left standing in it. The issue though is not whether they are a monopoly in that market (which they are, probably just as much as Microsoft is on the desktop market), but are they using it to prevent competition from others or in other markets?
        • by jank1887 (815982)

          where's my mod points when I need them?

          +9 Insightful

          • by jonsmirl (114798) on Friday June 26, 2009 @10:31AM (#28482135) Homepage

            Microsoft has plenty of money. If they don't like the way the mainframe market looks then they should enter and build their own. IBM has already been through the anti-trust wringer for their mainframe hardware and has spent decades under supervision by the Justice Department.

            The article is missing the fact that T3 bought it's technology from Platform Solutions. Platform Solutions was acquired [ibm.com] by IBM. Without reselling Platform Solutions' product I don't see how T3 has any offerings that IBM competes with. They look like a distributor that has been cut off form a supplier, that's not grounds for anti-trust.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jejones (115979)

          Well... I take it you weren't around back in the days when IBM was every bit as vile a monopolist as Microsoft is now. Look up some of the writings of Rex Malik (in England) or Nancy Foy (in the US), and read about the history of IBM. I personally would have loved it had Burroughs prevailed.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @10:55AM (#28482661)
            How does IBM's practices in the 1960s and 1970s relate to the companies that were competing with IBM in the mainframe marketplace in the 1990s? Fujitsu and Hitachi, both huge corporations with substantial financial resources, were competing with IBM in the 1990s with mainframe compatible systems. Both Fujitsu and Hitachi decided they had better places to invest funds than developing mainframe servers. Both Fujitsu and Hitachi lacked IBM's faith in the technology and vision of where it could go. IBM is now reaping the benefits of its decision to continue investing substantial funds in mainframe R&D while many in the industry were declaring the technology a relic of a bygone era.
            • Hitachi didn't get out of the Mainframe biz. They may have said they did, but they didn't. They've converted their mainfram biz to a hardware based virtualization solution based on intel Itanium and Xenon VT chipsets.

              The interface to their blade symphony virtage systems is traight out of their mainframes. Hey've taken a position of doing the mainframe thing but on comodity chips. We bought one of these a year or so ago. it basically scales up to 16 LPARs per blade, with failover and all of the niceities,

        • by BACPro (206388)

          IBM just happens to be the last buggy whip manufacturer...

          This time, however, the apparent benefits of the horseless carriage are being outweighed by the known benefits of the horse.

        • The issue though is not whether they are a monopoly in that market (which they are, probably just as much as Microsoft is on the desktop market), but are they using it to prevent competition from others or in other markets?

          I agree there is question about whether or not IBM's actions constitute an abuse in other markets, but that is not the only form of antitrust abuse. Methods of gaining the monopoly, preventing others entry into the initial market, or price fixing can all be issues. Further I'm not sure I would conclude that IBM has a monopoly on the relevant market. They certainly sell most of what people refer to as mainframes, but it is unclear that that label defines the competitive market in which they operate. The gene

      • by bb5ch39t (786551) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:04AM (#28480723)
        IBM is "anti competitive" because it is beating the crap out of MS in the new environment. I don't remember IBM screaming when MS was riding high on cheap Windows servers displacing mainframes. And MS was lying through their teeth. At the time, the Windows servers were nowhere near as reliable as the mainframe. Just cheaper.
        • by mark-t (151149)

          At the time, the Windows servers were nowhere near as reliable as the mainframe. Just cheaper.

          I'd be willing to bet that this is still the case, actually.

          • by MrCrassic (994046)
            Considering that many of the world's most powerful and critical organizations and corporations use Windows Server 2003/2008 in even mission-critical environments, I wouldn't throw my money down.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by DUdsen (545226)

              Yes but mission critical wintel deployment it's probably a lot more expansive in terms of redudancy and support cost then the older mainframes. when they grow to the scale where mainframes used to live.

              Windows biggest drawback stability wise was always that it had none and now only week self protection features, a renegade application will take a wintel host down while a mainframe will remain mostly unaffected by bad application code. With properly tested application code you can make a wintel stable, but t

            • by smoker2 (750216)
              nob
      • Say I'm littering in your front yard. Then you start playing obnoxiously loud music in the middle of the night.

        Should I be barred from suing you for being a nuisance, just because I'm a nuisance myself?

        Yeah, but I'm not sure it's really like that. AFAICT it's almost more like if you were littering and the trash blew over into your neighbor's yard, and then you complained to the neighborhood association that your neighbor wasn't taking good enough care of their yard, because it was covered in trash.

        If IBM is dominant, it seems like it's at least partially because they're the one left standing after Microsoft leveraged their monopoly to drag the whole market in a different direction.

      • But sir thats the point - It is difficult to make an informed decision when the information recieved is from Microsoft.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ignavus (213578)

        Should I be barred from suing you for being a nuisance, just because I'm a nuisance myself?

        Yes. It is called "unclean hands" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_hands).

        You being a jackass undermines your suit against me being a jackass.

        Microsoft calling anyone anti-competitive should result in the court bursting out in raucous laughter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aceticon (140883)

        The interesting part here is that Microsoft used a sock-puppet company for those statements.

        Has MS come out and say it themselves it wouldn't be quite the news it is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mashiyach (757252)

      It's OK when then other companies compete with each other, but if they start to compete with Microsoft then it's unfair...

      Their business model is not built upon competition, it's built upon killing competitors.

      • "It's OK when then other companies compete with each other, but if they start to compete with Microsoft then it's unfair..."

        Sure. That's why Sun and AOL pushed the government into investigating MS. It was OK to compete with each other, but they thought it was unfair that they had to compete with MS.

        • Considering some of Microsoft's business practices, I would have to agree that it WAS unfair for them to have to compete against blackmail, false advertising, mis-represented facts, client lock-in and downright illegal tactics.
    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:52AM (#28481455) Homepage Journal

      Let's ask one of the biggest computer buyers in the world if they are being forced to use IBM mainframes, or, if maybe they have satisfactory and competitive alternatives.

      http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10209580-92.html [cnet.com]

      I suspect that one of their datacenters has more computing capacity than most mainframes...

    • When it comes to a monopoly in the computer business, IBM invented both the pot and the kettle. IBM was a lot better at playing the politics than MS, that's why the DOJ could never close the deal on them after investigating for a decade.

      Also remember that in order for MS to be successfully sued for anti-trust, servers had to be excluded from the market defined in the suit. If it's OK to define an OS market that is desktop specific, it's equally OK to define a computer market that is limited to mainframes.

    • To be fair, you can't expect Microsoft to recognise the similarity in their accusations and their own behavior, when, by their accusations, they really mean "Linux is tough to beat in the server market technically, so we'd like to have a swipe using legal means now".

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:21AM (#28480275) Journal
    So through the whole article from Total Telecom all I could find for a concrete complaint is:

    T3 contends that IBM pens in mainframe customers faced with a high cost of switching to other systems, while refusing to share blueprints necessary to offer a cheaper alternative.

    I'm not a hardware guy and I'm no fan of IBM but I must be missing something here: what is it about mainframes that makes them so different from servers?

    Tampa-based T3 develops mainframe technology compatible with IBM software that is designed for small and midsize enterprises.

    Maybe they can't release details but I'm guessing that there's some proprietary chipsets and microcontrollers inside these things to run the (what are they at 32 or 64 processors) CPUs stacked on top of each other and banks of memory and storage and database crap. So what you've gotten software written specifically to take advantage of this stuff? And it's going to be hard to move to another mainframe or standardized servers with that stuff? Are you surprised? It'd be like if I wrote something for Windows and then complained I couldn't get the blueprint from Windows of how the API works so I could move to a "cheaper solution" like Linux.

    So if T3 wins this case, what's the ideal outcome? IBM open sources the software that runs on these mainframes? IBM releases detailed chipset information? Both are laughable. And if you're going to argue that, you might as well argue that Microsoft open up Windows or Intel layout the insides of its Atom processors for the world to see.

    I wish I didn't find myself defending IBM (I hate their software and these mainframes sound like a scam) but you have to draw the line somewhere or apply to everyone. My advice to the poor companies still at the hands of IBM: get out. Of course that's my advice to anyone foolish enough to buy into vendor "lock-in" software like Flash. Lesson learned: An extra layer of well defined and thought out abstraction will add a bit of overhead but in the end it might save your ass when you need to switch technologies.

    • And if you're going to argue that, you might as well argue that Microsoft open up Windows or Intel layout the insides of its Atom processors for the world to see. [...] you have to draw the line somewhere or apply to everyone.

      Note that if we're talking about companies being anticompetitive, "everyone" is the set of market players which have the ability to behave anticompetitively.

      If we talk about, say, tying music players to online music stores, "everyone" is {Apple}. I don't know much about the Zune--does Microsoft have a music store? If they do, do they also have a big enough market presence to behave anti-competitively in that space? No.

      I don't know why you picked Intel and Microsoft as examples, but there are cases to be

    • by daethon (1349241) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:54AM (#28480591)
      This is by no means fully comprehensive, but is about 90% of the mainframe story.

      1) Reliability: 5 9's (99.999%)
      2) Backward compatibility, there are people still running applications written 40 years ago
      3) Security: Physical (hard to move a refrigerator), Network (no external network when applications working internally), RACF, Highest level of security rating of ANY server, ever.
      4) Architecture: Redundant everything: Spare processors, spare power, spare, everything. Predictive failure/automatic fail over for individual components. Memory Bus greater than anything out there. Pipes to Storage extreme. Cryptographic processors to do SSL, etc.
      5) Scale up: 64 processors (4.4GHz), 1.5 TB of Memory, etc.
      6) Scale out: GDPS (Geographically Disperse Parallel Sysplex) up to 32 boxes?
      7) Hipervisor: Its a network in a box. Applications talking to each other use IP, not TCP/IP, so you aren't sending 35% data, 65% header when applications talk. Network is at the speed of memory. zVM has been developed for over 20 years.
      8) Power Efficiency: Compared to a server cluster + cooling + redundant power, etc.
      9) Network Simplicity: No need for a rats nest for your rack, cable simplicity in some cases from over 1000 cables down to 12. From 14 switches (which are very expensive) to 4.
      10) Management simplicity: Less staff needed to keep it up and running. Instead they are focused on adding business value
      11) Running Legacy (aka Business Critical) applications, your web presence, your portal, and a myriad of other disparate applications in one place.
      12) Create new servers in minutes without needing hardware "on standby."
      13) Compartmentalization in a single box
      14) Shared everything while still fully separate
      15) Workload manager: able to on the fly change how much resources are allocated to images AND (this is the cool thing, cause other VMs do that) give it goal times for operations. As in: Complete this task in 1/100th of a second, and it will allocate, on the fly, for that to happen, and it will guarantee it.

      Mainframes are NOT the answer to all questions. Intel is NOT the answer to all questions. Itanium, Solaris, Power, etc...none are the answer to all questions.

      Buy the right tool for the right purpose.
      • by ignavus (213578)

        2) Backward compatibility, there are people still running applications written 40 years ago

        Oh, so they are still playing "Hunt the Wumpus"?

        (OK, so it was written 37 years ago, not 40. Sue me.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by garyj4 (267017)

        I'm not a huge fan of mainframes. But you are right on the money -- "buy the right tool for the right purpose." Unfortunately many companies get rid of mainframes, Unix, etc to follow the dollar. Then they are scrambling to write applications to do the same thing. Seeing more and more companies jumping on the Linux band-wagon. I like Linux, but it is not always the answer. Guess I am getting old and cranky. :)

      • by lenski (96498)

        Mod parent up, daethon is essentially right. IBM got their asses handed to them in the '80's, learned very hard lessons, and built a set of tools and technologies for a specific marketplace. During that time, they perfected both their technologies and the match between their technology and their chosen market. I think I've heard of mainframe applications running continuously for decades... Too lazy to find a specific link though.

        7) Hipervisor: Its a network in a box. Applications talking to each other use

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:02AM (#28480683) Journal

      Once upon a time, a company started selling an emulator for IBM's OS/360-derived line. IBM used various legal tactics to make them stop. This line (it keeps being renamed. I think it's z/OS these days, but I could be wrong) has been backwards compatible since 1960. Any of IBM's customers who bought binary-only software for this platform at any point in the last 50 years is locked in to buying IBM mainframes.

      Any customer who insisted on receiving the source code and porting rights to the code is able to move to a new platform. It therefore sounds like Microsoft is arguing against proprietary, binary-only, software. If this goes to court, I imagine the Nazgul will point out that IBM recommends that their customers invest in an open-source software stack, which frees them from lock-in. If people choose to be locked in when their supplier is recommending solutions which do not involve lock in then that's their problem. If they win arguing this strategy then it could backfire on MS quite badly.

    • by asc99c (938635) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:20AM (#28480929) Homepage

      I'm not entirely certain of this but it sounds like the separation between mainframes and servers is essentially that IBM produce servers that are backwards-compatible with their very ancient mainframes. I'm not sure that in the hardware there's any specific borderline between server and mainframe. From my own experience, a LOT of companies are still using ancient COBOL-era software to run their core business. It's been around for a long time and so the bugs are ironed out and it runs OK. Software doesn't rust, and there isn't a compelling reason to replace something that works OK. However, the hardware does rust and so at some point companies need to buy hardware that will run these ancient applications.

      Sounds to me like IBM is reaping the rewards of continuing to support the stuff they did 30+ years ago. The high cost with switching to another platform is rewriting their old and business critical applications. And of course reluctance to do this means accepting a very high cost of new hardware, relative to other options.

      I write applications, mainly on AIX as my day job, and the hardware is very expensive, but it's not uncommon for places to still have the same servers in place 10 or 20 years down the line. It's quite common 3-4 years after an installation has gone live to have the customers IT personnel on the phone asking about replacing the hardware, and generally the advice is that there's no need to. The cost can be triple the cost of mainstream hardware, but so is the lifespan, so I think on TCO terms, it's not that bad.

      NB: the stuff we write is portable C so we're not tied in to AIX in any way - my current project is running on SLES 10 on cheap Dell servers. But the real expensive servers made by IBM / Sun / HP do seem to have a reliability factor that isn't matched by cheap hardware.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by baegucb (18706)

      Mainframes can run webservers and Linux (and specialized chips to speed Linux up) for instance. Someone needs a new LINUX server set up? Get it in minutes. The advantage they have over PC based servers is massive IO capability and uptime. And if you're using databases this is a killer speed advantage in the server world. My mainframe hasn't been shutdown in years. And as far as the OS goes, it was open source years ago, but I don't think z/OS is now. Besides, if it just works, why would any company change?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uassholes (1179143)

      what is it about mainframes that makes them so different from servers

      Most servers are PCs in pizza boxes. This is from Wikipedia:

      Released on February 26, 2008, the System z10 Enterprise Class is available in five hardware models: E12, E26, E40, E56, and E64...The number of "characterizable" (or configurable) processing units (PUs) is indicated in the hardware model designation (e.g., the E26 has 26 characterizable PUs). Depending on the capacity model a PU can be characterized as either a Central Processor (CP), Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processor, z Applicat

    • by bb5ch39t (786551)

      The mainframe hardware has many things in it which are patented. Including some of the instructions! In particular, a number undocumented instructions which are used by the OS (z/OS and z/VM). So, without a patent license from IBM, you cannot build a competitive hardware (or software emulator). And IBM has either refused to license the patents, or put the fee so high that nobody can afford to make compatible hardware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AlexGr (1054296)
      If you want to hear T3's side of it, there's a good article written by Steve Friedman, T3's president -- The T3 Technologies Story: http://openmainframe.org/featured-articles/the-t3-technologies-story.html [openmainframe.org]
    • by MrCrassic (994046)

      I'm not a hardware guy and I'm no fan of IBM but I must be missing something here: what is it about mainframes that makes them so different from servers?

      I'm not a mainframe guy, but from the little that I know about them, mainframes are very, very good at performing multiple, computationally-intensive processes very, very quickly. Their architecture allows them to do massive calculations that would take some servers out; a company I worked with previously used them specifically for pricing schemes, and I know of several HUGE financial institutions that are still using them today (though I wouldn't doubt that a large reason why they are still in use is becau

      • I don't think it's so much that mainframes are bad at small repetitive tasks as they are simply the wrong tool for the job. If you're Little Guy, Inc and you need a box to handle the simple repetitive database tasks that your small company uses daily, it's silly to spend the kind of money you would have to for a mainframe. A cheap server with some good backup and a RAID is all the power and reliability you can justify. It's not that the mainframe couldn't have done it, it's just that there's no point in

    • by Znork (31774)

      what is it about mainframes that makes them so different from servers?

      Structure of marketing, lack of benchmarks and pricing model.

      Hardware wise, last I looked, it had POWER equivalent CPU's with minor fixes for mainframe quirks, DDR2-667 memory, internal bus bandwidth comparable to Hypertransport, and 2x IB for outward connections. Nice enough, but nothing special. The days of 'mainframes have massive I/O' are gone.

      As far as costs go, from the information I've actually been able to find in the form of main

  • Buh buh but.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nursie (632944) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:23AM (#28480297)

    The mainframe is a dead relic of times past surely?

    I love the cyclical nature of all this stuff.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by guruevi (827432)

      The mainframe of old - the single room-size unit with hundreds of CPU's, drives and memory is indeed dead. These days a 'mainframe' is nothing more but a clustered Linux environment that runs virtualized instances of an Operating System. Some mainframes still resemble the old mainframes (eg. the zSeries) but they take up about the size of a rack.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        no no, not at all 'nothing more' -- the Z series is designed to have "zero down time" - you can replace the cpu, memory, power supply without interrupting service. The mainframe has much better engineering than our lousy home computers. In addition the I/O capacity is much much higher.

        In fact the mainframe, which is now represented by the Z series is what our home computers should be.

        • Does the occasional reboot or shutdown to replace a part really bug you enough that you'd be interested in paying somewhere between twice as much(best case scenario reflecting mass adoption of mainframe level redundancy in low end systems) and 1,000+ times as much(getting your own mainframe, off the shelf) for your computer?

          I can easily understand why banks and such would do so; but that seems seriously excessive for most purposes.
          • Re:Buh buh but.... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by bb5ch39t (786551) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:29AM (#28481071)

            A good point. The z (mainframe) is wonderful for something that requires its reliability. Some actual examples that I personally have had (I work on the mainframe). We had a CPU fail in our z. The __hardware__ transparently moved the running work onto a new CPU that was in "standby" mode. No outage of any sort. We didn't even know of the failure until IBM support called us that they had received a "call home" alert. We have two OSA (they are like NICs for the z). One OSA failed. The other OSA did an "arp takeover" and all TCPIP sessions continued with __NO__ outage. Again, we got messages about this, but the hardware/software recovered with no action on our part. The CE (repair man) came in, took out the bad OSA and put in a new OSA. We then issued commands and the new OSA simply started working. No down time. No interruptions to any work in progress.

            If you don't mind downtime, then by all means, use Intel or AMD with Windows or Linux. If will be cheaper. And maybe even more cost effective. But, based on what happens with MS Exchange goes down around here, don't do it for anything that will make people scream if the service is done for very long. But perhaps we aren't using MS Exchange properly - I wouldn't know.

            --
            John

            • You don't even need a mainframe for that. IBM's pSeries/System p/Power Systems hardware will do it, too. Say you've got 10 LPARs (logical partitions) running on an 8-core machine. If one of the CPUs fails, it will try to swap in an unused CPU. If there's no unused CPUs, it will remove CPU capacity from one or more of the LPARs until it reaches a point where the CPU resources in use fall below the minimum allocated CPUs for all the running LPARs. At that point, it would shut down the lowest priority LPARs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        By the time you migrate off a mainframe to Servers, buy lots of Microslop licences, Buy VMWare, buy Citrix, and a gaggle of utilities and backup and firewall software - the 'savings' evaporate. Factor in reliability and true recovery times - mainframe is looking great. PC Servers do not have the hardware assist of mainframes - yet.

        Mainframes are still doing well, because software and OS prices have not fallen, if anything gone up. MS does not like this, because Open Source starts to look respectable and rel

      • ...err no a real mainframe as still used and still selling nicely thank you is a 5 9's system (99.999% uptime)

        Massively redundant, massively reliable hardware running a real OS that does nothing but run VM's that run Linux/Windows/Anything .... and is still capable of running software systems written 40 years ago

        These are single systems where anything can fail (although it rarely does) and if it did not tell you you would not notice because it just keeps on running ... you swap out the faulty component and

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:24AM (#28480319)

    they know all about being anticompetitive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:25AM (#28480329)

    A huge IBM add posted on slashdot that looks like MS bashing. Really clever.

    • Yes, IBM was so clever to get Microsoft to start attacking them for the valuable "Slashdot saw it" demographic.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:26AM (#28480333)

    What, you mean computers were actually capable of opening more than one window at a time?

  • As long as the mainframe can deliver the advantage and deliver a reliable service, I don't see it going out of the market. But personally I see the future going toward cloud computing and virtualization.
    • Sigh... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Junta (36770)

      A system Z mainframe is always run in virtualization. That's been one of their big features.

      In terms of 'cloud', the term is so ill-defined and buzzed it's hard to say much, but generally speaking, a 'cloud' on a mainframe is not any less possible than a 'cloud' on disparate x86 rackmount servers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        A system Z mainframe is always run in virtualization. That's been one of their big features.

        And running a VM on such a system is cheap. You can run thousands of Linux instances on a single mainframe. They won't be fast running computationally-expensive things, but they will work and be load-balanced. Try running a thousand Linux instances on a small cluster of PCs and have random load spikes in them and watch your network load jump to 100% and stay there while it tries to re-balance the load across the cluster (if your hypervisor supports this, of course, otherwise wait until all the VMs on one

        • by Junta (36770)

          One thing that surprises me is that there aren't hosting companies selling Z/Architecture VMs.

          Probably because IBM sucks at marketing what they got. Probably because some of their leaders don't realize the relevance of their own product instead of chasing what industry press hypes (x86 hardware).

          It could also be because people are extremely wary of vendor lock-in, and chase the lowest common denominator (x86). IBM system p/i/z stuff has great advantages, but people fear being left behind because of one vendor having issues.

          If the latter, it would be interesting if IBM released mainframes with x86 p

  • by quantum bit (225091) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:31AM (#28480385) Journal

    ...and not just the titles. The HP one is talking about HP pushing for people to migrate off mainframes. Onto HP servers. Running Windows Server 2003.

  • I still remember the old saying after Win95 came out - in direct competition with the mainframe-centric OS/2 - "Windows 95 is a 32-bit shell to a 16-bit operating sysetm, written by an 8-bit company, originally written for a 4-bit processor by a company that can't stand one bit of competition."

    Seems to hold somewhat true today.

    Seriously, though. When you look at the ability to run VMs inside mainframes and potentially reduce floorspace and the associated costs, it may seem tempting to go mainframe. Even HP
  • Hyper-competetive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paimin (656338) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:41AM (#28480481)
    Wait, if the server market is hyper-competetive, then there's no serious anti-trust issue right? I mean, would you call the desktop OS market "hyper-competetive"?
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:47AM (#28480523)
    IBM makes the hardware & software to work together as a complete marketable unit, if microsoft wants to compete in the mainframe market then they better build their own mainframe & software to run on it as a complete unit ready for market, and quit bitching about being anti-competitive bunch of damn hypocrites...
  • "The Computer & Communications Industry Association has filed a so-called Tunney Act challenge [accessmylibrary.com] to the Department of Justice's controversial settlement with Microsoft in 2001", Sep 2003

    "The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) is criticizing [computerworld.com] last month's decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exclusively use Microsoft Corp. software, arguing that recent computer virus and worm attacks against Microsoft products are evidence that such a decision is a poor cho
  • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Friday June 26, 2009 @08:55AM (#28480611)

    We need more details about what anti-competitive things IBM is doing. OK, it sells machines that seem to give customers more value for money, in their perception, while still making massive profits. Lucky IBM, but isn't that what business is all about? What have they been doing to stop others competing with them - if they can? Have they been saying that you cannot connect Windows machines to their mainframes? Have they been refusing to run Microsoft software (if you can get the appropriate license) on their virtual machines? Or what else?

    • by EXTomar (78739)

      What seems to be going on is that a vendor with HP equipping running Windows Server 2003 is complaining it is hard to replace mainframe deployments. That is a giant "duh" because mainframes are designed that way with being 5 x 9s and all of that. Companies that buy these expensive mainframes are looking for a super stable, super redundant, super long lived hardware and software platform. They aren't looking for a "cloud computing" platform. They aren't looking for what this vendor is selling (HP hardwar

  • Silliness (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Malenx (1453851)

    IBM in no way forces a customer to use their systems. At any time, a customer could leave and move to another setup.

    It sounds like the issue is competitors want IBM to release more details on how things are engineered, so they can design solutions for people who want to transition from IBM to other products.

    IBM stuck with their investment and are positioned to make some great cash of this. The other companies need to make their own solutions that are good enough to win over customers. Lawyers have way to

    • "IBM in no way forces a customer to use their systems. At any time, a customer could leave and move to another setup."

      I agree, but the fact that this was also true of Windows didn't stop MS from losing their case.

  • ...something like Ballmer with a chair, Gates has been gone for a while now (and scarily enough - being incredibly philanthropic.)

    • by Divebus (860563)

      Gates has been gone for a while now (and scarily enough - being incredibly philanthropic.)

      Most Robber Baron industrialists turn to philanthropy later in life. Many have a rags to riches story and worked very hard but there's typically a prominent ruthless element to them. See Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Armour, Duke and now Gates.

  • by Sandbags (964742) on Friday June 26, 2009 @09:36AM (#28481207) Journal

    Has microsoft ever had a mainframe? No.
    Do they have a mainframe OS? no.
    Could they develop one? HPC could theoretically be considdered one if they added storage virtualization to it, and a few other mainframe class systems.
    Would we use a microsoft OS to replace out IBM mainframes? No. I'll elaborate:

    - We have MILLIONS of lines of code ON the mainframe that would ALL have to be completely re-done from scratch to move off the OS390 platform.
    - We have 10 times that much code that would have to be modified to talk to a non-OS390 mainframe.
    - We have hundreds of servers that run support applications for the mainframe or mainframe apps that don't run on Windows.
    - Any competing platform uses far more space and many fold more power, and does not have the HA features of true mainframes.
    - A LARGE part of the security of our mainframe environment is that since you can't exactly get access to OS390 easily, hacing it is damned near impossible... Moving to a windows kernel based mainframe would NOT be adviseable even if we could afford it.
    - IBM is here, and has been for decades, and there's more legacy code running on OS390 that's 10 years old than code running on it that's less than 10 years old. they're NOT going to drop support for it. I can't say that about any competitor.
    - IBM has a FULL suite of tools to manage, monitor, and protect the mainframe. Most technologies entering the x64 space now have been in use on mainframes for 5-10 years... some longer.
    - Licensing prices on the mainframe are a FRACTION of the price of lecensing x86 and P6 systems. (we're saving about 10 million this year in licensing alone moving a few hundred machines to Suse Linux virtualised on z10 IFL processors.)
    - Component hardware costs of the mainframe are a bit higher (about $8K for a gig of RAM), but the system as a whole is actually not only cheaper than an equivalent VMWare or hypervisor supercluster, but it;s energy use is also a fraction of the equivalent.
    - the Z systems have 5-10 year lifespans, we have a few running 12 years without a critical outage, not 3-5 years like all other platforms...

    We pay a never-ending maintenance plan on our mainframes. We add new ones every year or two to replace old ones, but we don't really "buy" new mainframes, we simply pay to have a base number of MIPS available and IBM keeps the hardware running. (and pay to increase those MIPS as necessary. The licensing and hardware costs are FAR lower than out other platforms.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bb5ch39t (786551)

      And that's how IBM is anticompetitive! You are "locked in" to using their hardware and software. Totally unlike MS, where you can run their software on any number of vendor's machines (HP, Dell, Gateway, even "white box" off the Internet!). And should you decide that you don't want to run MS Office any more, why then it is simple to convert to ... OOPS - never mind. Or if you want to integrate a non-Windows server into an Active Directory environment, you simply ... Never mind again. Or remember how easy it

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Friday June 26, 2009 @10:05AM (#28481673) Homepage
    Microsoft can't call IBM anti-competitive; I'm sure IBM already has patents on technologies related to "methods by which a pot calls a kettle black".
  • Market dominance based on technical superiority is anti-competitive. Market dominance based on FUD, dirty tricks, bribery, intimidation, and theft is just business success.

    I understand now, Microsoft! Thanks for clarifying that for us.

  • Why would IBM and Cisco be better positioned than Microsoft in the cloud? That makes no sense. Microsoft is still the leading or one of the leading developer platform providers. 10's of thousands of companies and millions of developers use Microsoft frameworks and tools for software development. Yes, there are lots of great alternatives (Java, Php, Ruby etc. etc. etc.) and that's a good thing. But all things being equal I'd probabyl rather be Microsoft right now than pretty much any other company trying to
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JonnyBlade (919086)
      "Why would IBM and Cisco be better positioned than Microsoft in the cloud?"
      Because IBM and Cisco are known for their highly scalable frameworks to deal with high-traffic, high-computational applications.

      Microsoft has never had a foothold in the enterprise or computational intensive market, ever. Having worked my entire career in high science and industry, I have never seen a mission critical, highly stable and scalable application written on the MS platform (not that they don't exist I'm sure).

      Do you
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Friday June 26, 2009 @12:30PM (#28484345)

    The Microsoft approach with all of the desktop computers networked together is becoming fabulously expensive for support, maintenance, installation, and security. The 'mainframe' computer still connects the desktops but the good stuff (apps and data) is on the 'mainframe' rather than the local desktops so most of the support, maintenance, installation, and security is done on a few of the 'mainframes' rather than the thousands of desktops. The cost advantages of that are so enormous that Microsoft should be attempting to find a way to play in that space by buying companies rather than bellyaching about the anti-competitiveness of IBM. Microsoft has never figured out what they want to do, anyway...video games, corporate computing, home multimedia centers, small business computing, or what? Microsoft wants to do everything but they don't do anything very well.

  • includes Google, the Linux Foundation, Oracle, Yahoo and Red Hat as members.

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