I must admit that until the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2010 was published, I was only dimly aware of OpenMainframe.org (their Web site, not surprisingly, is at openmainframe.org). They sponsored the Yearbook, and so I thought I’d find out more about them.
Their Web site explains that OpenMainframe.org is a forum for exchanging news, views, and information related to creating an open market for IBM-compatible mainframe solutions. And I guess they would put the stress on the word “compatible”.
It goes on to explain that the Web site was built by a community of individuals and companies sharing a common interest in promoting a fair, open, and diverse marketplace for mainframe solutions. There’s a big thank you to T3 Technologies (which describes itself as effectively out of business due to the direct actions of IBM – you may remember its tServer mainframe, based on FLEX-ES, was a great success) Microsoft Corporation (not a fan of IBM), the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA says it promotes open markets, open systems, open networks, and full, fair, and open competition), Peerstone Research (which advises customers on buying decisions), TurboHercules (which describes itself as the first commercial entity exclusively dedicated to Hercules, the well-known open source software implementation of the IBM mainframe architecture) and others.
This group of IBM-alternativists informs us that it believes IT customers can benefit from lower costs, increased innovation, broader choice, and better customer service when markets are truly open and multiple vendors compete for business. A sentiment that it’s hard to disagree with – unless, I suppose, you’re an IBM accountant!
The site lists a large number of laudable beliefs, including:
• IBM mainframe system software, middleware, and intellectual property should be available to all solution providers and customers for licensed use on alternative hardware platforms under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
• In order to promote interoperability, compatibility, and an open market for mainframe solutions, IBM should be required to publish interface and protocol information for mainframe technologies.
• Given the strategic value of IBM-compatible mainframe systems for businesses and governments worldwide, multiple vendors should be allowed to participate in an open market for the supply of mainframe hardware, software, and services without interference from IBM. An open market will encourage price competition, differentiated innovation, and broader solution choices to meet the needs of customers.
I’ve got to say, that it’s a long time since I was at a site with an Amdahl mainframe or even a Hitachi one. Whatever happened to these Plug-Compatible Mainframes (PCMs). And IBM has squashed the life out of mainframe software emulation systems from organizations such as Platform Solutions and Fundamental Software. OpenMainframe.org is keen to see some kind of alternative to a monolithic IBM – hence the support for (and from) TurboHercules.
I’ve become a member. I’m a strong supporter of IBM, but I can also see the benefits from competition. I talk to people who wouldn’t even consider a mainframe solution at the moment – without understanding the benefits – who might think differently if there were a cheaper way of bringing them into the mainframe fold.
If you feel the same – and they list IBM’s assault on NEON’s zPrime as just one example of IBM’s tactic of crushing threats – then why not join as well?