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April 4, 1989

EUROPEAN COMPUTER LEASERS WRING CONCESSIONS ON MICROCODE AVAILABILITY OUT OF IBM

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Computer Leasing and Trading Association, ECLAT, has emerged from a protracted session at the IBM negotiating table with a number of major concessions. The first of these is an IBM assurance that, as regards feature changes, microcode tapes will be shipped within five days of the arrival of the order at IBM’s Montpellier plant. The move is designed to prevent IBM from delaying shipments, and using the knowledge that a customer is upgrading to provide its own sales force with a response time advantage, explained ECLAT’s Director-General, Geoff Sewell. He also said that the association will continue to press IBM to make similar guarantees for microcode tapes relating to model changes. The key to the microcode issue is flexibilty: the owner of equipment should be able to modify a machine without going back to IBM, argues Sewell. A second concession concerns the provision of an IBM disconnected equipment audit on the back of a Maintenance Agreement Qualification, MAQ, letter. This is the term applied to an IBM-issued letter, which makes disconnected equipment acceptable at subsequent locations by indicating that maintenance has been carried out by an IBM engineer. According to Sewell, the failure to provide an audit has led to less than satisfactory discontinuation procedures; missing parts, in particular, often cause long re-installati on delays. Sewell claims that the audit policy, the fruit of ECLAT discussions with IBM over a number of years, will come into operation in the near future. In addition to equipment, it will encompass manuals, diagnostics, and spare parts. As reported earlier (CI No 822), IBM has also made a separate decision to reduce the validity of a MAQ to six months. Once the period has elapsed, users must now apply to IBM for renewal. Sewell thinks this not unreasonable, des cribing an unlimited timeframe as very generous.

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