Welcome!

Industrial IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Stackify Blog, SmartBear Blog, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT: Article

Another Mainframe ISV Has Trouble with IBM

In September of 2009 DBS released a software utility called IRS for DB2

Data Base solutions AG (DBS) in Switzerland calculates that European mainframe sites pay IBM 500 million euros - that's $650 million - more than they have to every year because of a gimmick that has ironically been dubbed IBM's "generosity factor."

That, it figures, is two euros or $2.70 out of the pocket of every man, woman and child in the European Union since consumers ultimately wind up paying the price of IBM's generosity.

DBS came to make the calculation in case it decides to complain to the European Commission about IBM.

The EC opened a monopoly maintenance investigation of IBM last summer on complaints from other ISVs. The Justice Department is also conducting a similar probe.

The Swiss software and consulting house is a mainframe DB2 specialist that has gotten roughed up lately by IBM in its zeal to squeeze every dime out of its mainframe monopoly even if it means riding roughshod over would-be competitors.

In September of 2009 DBS released a software utility called IRS for DB2 that increases the authorized DB2 workloads users can run on their mainframes' zIIP specialty processors (SPs).

It saves them a lot of money in licensing fees, money they actually thought they were already saving.

See, IBM doesn't charge its usually hefty monthly license fees for running DB2, Java and XML workloads on SPs. It's a device Big Blue concocted to dissuade users from abandoning mainframes for cheaper-to-run modern computers; zIIPs, like zAAP SPs, are just mainframe central processors (CPs) renamed and sold at a lower price.

IBM has always been hazy about the "portion" - its word - of zIIP-qualified workloads that DB2 sends to zIIPs to execute, but it put no contractual limits on the number of DB2 Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA) workloads that could be offloaded.

Every piece of software that uses the zIIP offload interface can decide what portion or percentage of its workload is redirected to the zIIP. Third-party products that have to compete against other products naturally want as much of their workloads offloaded as possible to make them cheaper to run.

Not DB2. DB2 is the only RDBMS running on z/OS. It doesn't have to compete. And, as far as DBS knows, it's the only software to limit its offloaded workloads.

DBS figured out that IBM only routed 55% of the legitimate DB2 workloads to the zIIPs, not 100% - even though the user-owned SPs had the capacity to handle more and the mainframes' CPs were overworked.

The scheme ensured that IBM raked in maybe an extra $1.5 billion a year in licensing fees worldwide, conservatively speaking.

It was because of a little artificial limit hard-coded into DB2 that IBM never quite got around to telling its customers about. Its existence only officially surfaced last May when IBM happened to mention it in a software patch.

So, to address the imbalance, DBS created IRS for DB2 - IRS is short for Install, Run, Save - which upped the so-called legal generosity factor to 95% and smoothed out the peaks and wait times that IBM had artificially created.

All DBS did was use information that IBM had on its web site for system programmers, information that happens not to be there anymore. And, contrary to IBM's contention that DBS uses the zIIP offload interface, the company says it doesn't and that IBM knows it; IRS for DB2 runs on CPs, not SPs.

Anyway, IBM - which recently described its so-called generosity factory as a business decision, obviously meaning it gives away just enough to keep its customers from bolting to other platforms - didn't take the revenue-denying innovation any too well.

Last May its mainframe software VP Dan Wardman, head of DB2 and IMS, put IBM's position on IRS for DB2 in writing for European customers: "Any other DRDA processing beyond the portion determined by DB2 that is diverted to a zIIP would not be eligible workload."

Aside from trying to spook users into not using it - because no contracts forbid it - IBM released a software patch called APAR PM12256 meant to make IRS for DB2 useless. It was a clumsy patch that actually increased some people's licensing fees and set off a little firestorm of opposition among its usually docile, intimidated mainframe clientele.

The APAR changed the generosity factor from a steady 55% of CPU use to 100% of a sometimes unachievable 60% of transactions and zero for the other 40%. It also created a very high variance in effective and predictable zIIP use that in turn created nasty spikes that cost users more.

DBS responded with a new version of IRS for DB2 to deal with the APAR and a new product called Dynamic SQL Balancing Optimizer (DSBO) to deal with the APAR's disadvantages. This month IBM upped the ante and released two new APARs that again change the way the system works to render DSBO useless and partly correct the problems with the first APAR.

To get around users' fear of IBM, DBS sells its software on a month-to-month basis. A customer can terminate at any time if the pressure IBM exerts gets to be too much to bear. For the 5,000 euros, or $6,500 it costs a month, the user saves about €15,000-€20,000 (~$20,500-~$27,500) a month.

Depending of their arrangements with IBM, the ROI is immediate for some sites while others see their end-of-year penalty payments cut.

DBS is afraid to talk about the adoption of IRS for DB2 because its customers are afraid of IBM's reaction. It says its penetration would be over 50% by now in the German-speaking parts of Europe were it not for IBM.

DBS speculates that between IRS for DB2 and Neon Enterprise Software's IBM-outlawed zPrime widgetry, which offloads and runs traditional DB2, CICS, IMS, TSO/ISPF and batch workloads on SPs, IBM's juicy monthly licensing fees could be cut by 50%.

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...