Installing an enterprise software suite for mainframes from a single vendor can be up to 50 per cent more expensive than using components from smaller vendors, analyst Meta Group has warned.
This is in contrast to claims from leading enterprise software vendors, including CA and BMC, that replacing OS/390 software suites from a variety of vendors with their single software suite actually reduces user costs.
In a research note Meta said: "Sole-supplier dominance typically raises user costs versus a robust competitive environment. Moreover, our research indicates that users augmenting their software asset management staff to enable and manage a competitive, multivendor environment typically increase savings by between two and four times."
There is also concern that larger vendors will impose restrictive terms and conditions and that limited user flexibility will create further difficulties.
Phil Payne, a consultant at Ishan Research, said: "CA is acquisition mad but it is only able to acquire companies who put themselves in an acquirable position. When software is not developed and maintained properly and a company isn't doing well in the market, CA steps in."
"If users had a contract that came up for renewal, it's certain that the licensing costs would be stepped up," said Payne, who added that mainframe software costs are now ten times those of hardware.
However, Jim Fagan, chairman of the CA Unicenter User Association, disagreed with the opinions of the analysts. He said that the increased membership of the Association, up from 30 to 134 members over the last year, was evidence that many users preferred to deal through a single supplier.
"The concept of the framework is still going strong. Many users prefer to deal with a single supplier for their enterprise software rather than trying to pick the best in breed product for each application," said Fagan.
Sam Greenblatt, senior vice president at CA, said the figures compared CA's offerings to products that were technically inferior, and he defended the pricing.
"CA has proven through multiple clients that the savings in actual licence fees and maintenance is substantially above that of the competition's products,"said Greenblatt. "As OS/390 evolves, CA has maintained newer functionality in the competitive replacement space than other competitors."
The issue is important because about half of CA's revenue comes from products running on OS/390. Last year Computer Associates promised to slash maintenance costs by more than two-thirds for UK customers who use IBM's OS/390 platform.
Currently, CA customers pay an annual maintenance fee for OS/390 software. The Millennium licensing programme will instead comprise a one-off licence fee and reduced maintenance fees. These are normally based on the power of customers' hardware but will be capped at 600 Mips.
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