Sunday, 2 August 2009

zPrime rattles a few cages

I seem to be spending the summer talking about zIIP and zAAP (System z Integrated Information Processor, and System z Application Assist Processors). And a couple of weeks ago I was enthusing about NEON Enterprise Software’s new zPrime product and how users should get it and save money before IBM changed the rules.

And I’m inclined to still think that way, it’s just that IBM has responded to the announcement much faster than I imagined.

For people who’ve been living off-planet, IBM charges users by the amount of General Purpose Processor (GPP) they use, while also making specialty processors available for things like Linux and DB2. Now, doing your processing in a specialty processor saves money because you’re not using the chargeable GPPs – and in real life can save money by putting off the need for an expensive upgrade. Into this situation comes the zPrime bombshell. Using their new software, NEON reckons that 50% of workloads can run on specialty processors – that’s not just DB2, that’s IMS, CICS, TSO/ISPF, batch, whatever.

Not surprisingly, at the thought of seeing their potential revenue cut in half, IBM has taken a dim view of the announcement. In a recent customer letter, IBM’s Mark S Anzani, VP and Chief Technology Officer for System z, cautions customers about the zPrime product. Apparently, customers with questions about IBM’s position on zPrime can contact Mark on

The customer letter contains the following paragraph:
“In general, any product which is designed to cause additional workloads, not designated by IBM or other SW providers as eligible to run on the Specialty Engines, to nevertheless to be routed to a Specialty Engine should be evaluated to determine whether installation and use of such a product would violate, among other things, the IBM Customer Agreement (for instance, Section 4 regarding authorized use of IBM program products such as z/OS) and/or the license governing use of the IBM “Licensed Internal Code” (frequently referred to as “LIC”) running on IBM System z servers, or license agreements with any third party software providers.”

NEON sent out a press release on 16 July saying: “NEON Enterprise Software is responding to a massive wave of interest over a newly-released software product called NEON zPrime that saves mainframe users millions of dollars in IT costs by realizing the full potential of IBM System z specialty processors.”

And how do other software vendors feel about this? CA – probably the biggest apart from IBM – ignores the announcement. The latest e-mail I have says that Chris O’Malley, executive vice president and general manager of CA’s Mainframe Business Unit, will deliver a keynote address to SHARE in Denver. As usual, no word from BMC. No it’s a PR company for DataDirect that drew my attention to Gregg Willhoit’s blog ( and the IBM customer letter ( on the DataDirect site.

It will be interesting to see how many customers install zPrime and what happens next.


dwebb said...

It appears another letter from IBM is circulating, not the one to Willhoit.

Anonymous said...

How many hardware vendors can tell you what you can and can not run on their hardware?