Neon Updates zPrime Product Aimed at IBM Mainframes

Neon Enterprise Software upgrades its zPrime software product, which enables businesses to more easily cut their mainframe costs by moving more workloads from IBM's central mainframe processor onto less expensive specialty engines. The software comes at a time when rivals are complaining about IBM's dominance of the mainframe market and federal investigators reportedly are looking into IBM's business practices.

Neon Enterprise Software has updated its zPrime product, which enables businesses to reduce the cost of their IBM mainframe environments.

Neon's zPrime software makes it easier for enterprises to move more of their workloads from the more expensive IBM System z central processors to less expensive specialty processors from IBM.

Neon initially released zPrime in June, and company officials say almost 50 companies worldwide are testing the product. On Nov. 2, the company announced Version 1.2 of the software.

The goal is to drive down the cost of mainframe computing for businesses, according to Neon officials. IBM bases its license fees on the amount of work done on the central processors.

Over the years, IBM has attempted to expand the reach of its mainframes by helping cut the operating costs. One way has been to develop specialty processors-zIIPs (System z Integrated Information Processors), zAAPs (System z Application Assist Processors) and IFLs (Integrated Facilities for Linux)-that run particular workloads such as Linux, Java and databases at a lower cost.

Neon officials found that those specialty engines could take on more workloads, which in turn saves businesses money. That desire to save money is reflected in the market, according to Neon Chairman and CEO Lacy Edwards.

"This incredibly rapid adoption reflects how much companies-and how many of them-want to reduce the high costs of mainframe computing," Edwards said in a statement Nov. 2

IBM officials are said to be unhappy about zPrime and have reportedly sent letters to customers warning them away from zPrime, which they said violates the terms related to IBM mainframe systems.

IBM's dominance in the mainframe business is getting some scrutiny. Over the past few years, a number of smaller companies have made an effort to gain traction in the mainframe market. For example, Platform Solutions sold non-IBM systems based on Intel's Itanium processor that could run mainframe workloads. IBM eventually bought the company.

More recently, T3 Technologies, which also sells non-IBM systems to run mainframe software, recently saw its lawsuit against IBM claiming noncompetitive practices thrown out. However, the suit apparently caught the eye of federal antitrust regulators, who reportedly are looking into IBM's mainframe business.

zPrime 1.2 includes a new Enablement Console that makes it easier for enterprises to pick which applications they want to move from the central processor to the zIIPs or zAAPs. In addition, the LE (Language Environment) Initialization Exit feature automates the task of enabling all LE-compliant applications-the majority of mainframe legacy application are LE-compliant, according to Neon officials-to migrate to the specialty engines.