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  1. Technology
August 20, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp says the new 2.6 cut of its OS/390 mainframe operating system incorporates much of the functionality that users contemplating a Unix server consolidation strategy would expect. Over and above the well-documented web, security, e-commerce, ERP, data mining and other additions to 2.6 (CI No 3,362), IBM is claiming a fifteen fold improvement in TCP/IP performance, Java Servlet support via the Webster (Domino Go) application server, support for Unix sendmail and a 50% improvement in NFS performance. While 2.6 will support Tivoli management agents and include Novell Directory Services it won’t be until a mid-1999 2.7 release of the system software that Tivoli is integrated into OS/390 enabling users to perform full administration and management tasks. 2.7 will also include Novell file and print services are integrated so users can dispense with SNA print serving for attached LANs. The Corba-based Component Broker, upon which IBM is hanging so much importance across its division for delivering what object-oriented programming has always promised, such as re-use, cross-platform support and quicker implementation, goes to beta at the end of the year. Key to IBM’s ability to attract customers to OS/390 that will otherwise consolidate around Unix – or migrate from S/390 – will be the 1999 rollout of its Measured Usage License Charge, where software is priced according to how much IBM middleware is touched rather than by the size of machine. IBM is understandably cagey about MULC, which it says it will talk about more in September or October and begin implementing at the beginning of next year. IBM says users of its new G5 mainframes will get best use out of 2.6, for example by being able to take advantage of support for IEEE floating-point instructions. IBM claims 9,000 OS/390 licensees and says 70% of its installed MVS base has now upgraded to OS/390. It claims 1,500 ISVs have either written new programs or modernized existing application for OS/390. It claims more than 200 Domino and 200 SAP licensees up on OS/390. Traditional mainframe ISVs, Computer Associates, Boole & Babbage, Candle and the rest are likely to face increased competition from these ISVs, lured to OS/390 by the prospect of meaty license fees. An Auto-Unix feature will also help customers move existing application to OS/390. Meta Group says S/390 software price increases make it very difficult for users to analyze myriad price elements to calculate and manage upgrade charges, multiple- CPU discount rates, and upgrades versus CPU additions. It warns that users without [access] to published pricing are most likely to be blind-sided by significant upgrade costs and ISV price changes, and advises they demand published price schedules as a requirement for any software purchase or upgrade, coupled with guarantees that all pricing information (including volume discount rates and Parallel Sysplex price definitions) is applicable for five or more years. The vast majority – 85% – of IBM’s hardware profit comes from the mainframe and AS/400 lines. OS/390 pricing is said to go from $100,000 to $2.5m to buy and from $2,000 to $52,000 a month to rent.

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