IBM is to streamline its System/390 mainframe software licensing policy in a bid to prevent some users defecting to Unix or NT platforms for application development (see Analysis, page 10).
The company currently has no less than 10 different methods of pricing its mainframe software products such as the DB2 and IMS databases and the Cics teleprocessing monitor.
Traditionally, mainframe licences have been based on the size of the processor, irrespective of the number of users or the amount of processing power consumed by the application. But over the next two years IBM will phase out this approach and all its variations, in favour of just two alternatives - Usage Licence Charge (ULC) and Parallel Sysplex Licence Charge (PSLC).
ULC is a new pricing structure aimed at users who are piloting applications that use less than 25% of System/390 processing power. IBM admits that its licensing structure has been in disarray for some time. "We are introducing usage pricing for products like Cics, IMS, DB2 and Tivoli because we have a problem with measured usage. One issue that we have had for several years is that users are saying to us that they know that when they reach 1,000 users System/390 is the right platform but they only have 20 users for some new pilot applications," said Doug Nielson, IBM System/390 consultant.
"The primary objective is to get the platform more cost effective than other platforms in the marketplace such as Unix or NT," explained Tim Jobson, IBM regional director of high-end systems. IBM will provide users with a software tool that will measure their usage once a year and generate an annual bill.
The second option, PSLC, is aimed at larger users and claims to provide a more flexible, and cheaper, licensing method for these. Any S/390 that can run Parallel Sysplex, IBM's clustering technology, has the right to PSLC, which offers considerable reductions in monthly software costs.
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