Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud, Eclipse, Government Cloud

Linux Containers: Article

Open Source Start-Up Complains About IBM To Antitrust Regulators

The little company says IBM is blocking it from selling its open source solutions

TurboHercules SAS, the Paris-based concern started last year to commercialize the 10-year-old open source Hercules mainframe project, filed a formal antitrust complaint against IBM with the European Commission Tuesday.

The little company says IBM is blocking it from selling its open source solutions.

Its software, which reinterprets or emulates the mainframe hardware architecture, makes it possible for mainframe applications to run on non-IBM operating systems such as the Mac OS, Windows and Linux on x86 and x64 hardware, a lot cheaper proposition for mainframe users and in some cases reportedly more performant.

TurboHercules is charging IBM with abusing its market dominance by refusing to let its mainframe customers run z/OS on anything other than IBM mainframe hardware. It says this is tying, a mortal sin for a dominant vendor.

It also charges IBM with recently introducing undocumented software interfaces and protocols to lock out competitors and prevent the open source project from maintaining full compatibility.

It says both these practices were outlawed by the undertaking IBM gave to the EC back in 1984 to resolve the EC's antitrust finding against the company and by the EC's 2004 decision against Microsoft upheld on appeal by the Court of First Instance - a decision IBM encouraged, one might add.

TurboHercules wants the EC, known for having an open source protectionist streak - look at how it almost blocked Oracle's acquisition of Sun over MySQL - to make IBM stop tying and open up its interfaces and protocols like they used to be back before 2002 when IBM introduced z/OS.

The start-up also wants IBM ordered to license it what it needs to compete on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. It's not asking for any freebies, simply a fair shake.

Roger Bowler, the mainframe maven who started the Hercules project in 1999, says that when he started TurboHercules last year, he asked IBM to license z/OS to customers for use with Hercules at prices and on conditions set by IBM provided they were fair and reasonable.

That was last July. It took IBM four months to answer. In November IBM's mainframe CTO Mark Anzani rejected the request and accused Hercules of infringing IBM's intellectual property.

Anzani is quoted as saying that Hercules open source emulator "requires IBM intellectual property and you will understand that IBM could not reasonably be asked to consider licensing its operating system for use on infringing platforms."

Bowler says in a blog dated Tuesday that "We wrote back immediately to Mr. Anzani to express our surprise that, after 10 years during which Hercules has acquired thousands of users around the world, including many within the ranks of IBM itself, IBM has now suddenly discovered that we are violating its intellectual property. In our reply we asked that IBM identify the specific property we allegedly violated in order that we could investigate that claim. In the unlikely event that IBM's assertions were found to have merit, we asked further that IBM consider adding such intellectual property to their much-publicized and deservedly admired ‘non-assertion' pledge to the open source community - the ‘IBM Statement of Non-Assertion of Named Patents Against OSS' published at www.ibm.com/ibm/licensing/patents/pledgedpatents.pdf."

Bowler is still waiting for IBM to tell him what IP Hercules is supposed to infringe, which is why he says TurboHercules has complained to the EC.

Once IBM asserted infringement and wouldn't identify it, he says, "We then realized that our only hope as a small company was to file a complaint with the European Commission."

So let me get this. IBM, the open source hero, is doing exactly what SCO was pilloried by the open source community for doing when it wouldn't say - because of its lawsuit against IBM - what lines of Linux code were supposedly stolen from Unix. Does that mean that the open source community is now going to tar and feather IBM and ride it out of town on a rail à la SCO?

And the complaint that IBM shows no reluctance in using its patents as an offensive anticompetitive weapon - instead of using patents to ensure compensation when other people use its inventions - should scare the bejaysus out of everybody since IBM owns patents on just about everything. According to TurboHercules, IBM is simply saying that we own the patents and you can't compete with us under any circumstances. Goodness gracious, whatever happened to fostering innovation around inventions?

Like MySQL, Hercules was developed in Europe and has been maintained by global volunteer community for the last 10 years. It is said to be used by 5,000-10,000 users worldwide.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose similar complaint to the US Justice Department kicked off an on-going investigation, says TurboHercules' anticompetitive complaint resembles its own and other complaints made to the EC the last couple of years. It claims it shows a "systemic pattern of behavior by IBM directed at anyone who threatens its mainframe monopoly."

CCIA CEO Ed Black also claims that "IBM is speaking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to its support of the open source community and its commitment to the responsible use of its patent portfolio. The fact that IBM would actually assert that an open source project infringes its patents is proof that IBM's support of open source stops the minute it threatens IBM's lucrative mainframe monopolies."

CCIA is supported by IBM foes like Microsoft.

Steven Friedman, president of T3T, which filed one of the other complaints CCIA is talking about last year, said, "I'm obviously very happy to see a formal complaint from another company that, like T3, is seeking to restore competition to the mainframe market. In reading today's press, TurboHercles seems to have suffered from the same IBM anticompetitive tying of hardware and software conduct as T3. Further, TurboHercules seems to support everything T3 said in our complaint."

In its complaint TurboHercules positions IBM as "super-dominant" under EU law because it holds 100% of both the mainframe operating systems market for running so-called legacy workloads and the mainframe hardware market for running these same legacy workloads.

When it suits it, IBM likes to dilute the market and lump mainframes in with other servers to make its share seem smaller but, as TurboHercules told the EC, no other system can claim to hold 80% of the world's data or represent an investment worth $5 trillion by its users or have a lock on 200 billion lines of code.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...