IBM’s mainframe anti-trust dispute comes to Europe

Opposition to IBM’s mainframe business practices gather momentum this week after a French company lodged a fresh complaint against the IT giant to the European Union’s anti-competition regulatator.

TurboHercules is a commercial operation built around an open source product named Hercules that allows mainframe software to run on non-mainframe hardware. The company has accused IBM of illegally preventing its customers from using the Hercules product.

Although it concedes that IBM’s end user license agreement (EULA) makes it illegal to run mainframe-based production systems on alternative hardware, the French company points to a clause in the EULA that says “if the designated machine is inoperable, the customer may use another machine temporarily.”

This clause, it says, permits Hercules to be used for disaster recovery, allowing customers to cut the cost of their redundant systems. However, when TurboHercules asked IBM for permission to license its mainframe software, the larger vendor allegedly accused it of patent infringement.

TurboHercules’ complaint is the latest in a string of accusations against IBM regarding its mainframe business. Most recently, a report from the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations and pressure group accused IBM of making it unduly difficult to migrate away from its mainframe hardware products. IBM responded by saying the is "bought and paid for" by Microsoft.

IBM’s mainframe practices are currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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