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IBM says rivals behind anti-IBM report in India

IBM says rivals behind anti-IBM report in India

The report is sponsored by OpenMainframe.org, and IBM says it doesn’t have credibility

IBM has slammed a report critical of the adoption of its mainframes in India, saying the report was driven by IBM competitors and has no credibility.

The report was sponsored by OpenMainframe.org, an online forum for news and information related to creating an open market for IBM-compatible mainframe technologies.

OpenMainframe.org is “bought and paid for” by Microsoft and other IBM competitors, so it’s hardly surprising that it would make an anti-IBM argument, IBM said in a statement over the weekend.

The report released last week by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), an economic policy think tank, and Indicus Analytics, an Indian economics research firm, acknowledges at the outset the contribution of OpenMainframe.org in “instigating and shaping” the report.

Microsoft declined to comment on IBM’s charges. A company spokeswoman however said on Monday that Microsoft was just one of a number of members of OpenMainframe.org.

The report called for a probe of IBM's conduct, whether it has denied customers benefits of technological innovation and whether it charged above-market prices for its technologies including the mainframe in India.

India’s high-end computer market is dominated by IBM, which has a 50 percent share of the Indian market, followed by Hewlett-Packard at 33 percent, and Sun with a 17 percent share, the report said.

Unlike Linux and Unix applications which can be moved to virtually any hardware vendor’s platform, or Windows applications which can run on servers from any of the leading server manufacturers, a mainframe application can only run on an IBM mainframe with IBM system software, according to the report, which is available on the ICRIER web site.

Tying operating systems to a particular brand of hardware is the fundamental mechanism by which high-end enterprise system vendors, not just IBM, seek to lock in their customers and raise switching costs, the report added.

ICRIER has as its board of governors some of India’s top business executives, policy makers and retired civil servants, including Nandan Nilekani, who is the former co-chairman of outsourcer Infosys Technologies and chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, a body set up to use technology to give all Indians a unique identity (UID) number.

As India invests in programs targeting the country’s under-privileged, the public and private sectors will need to build a large base of high-end servers, including mainframes, the report said. For this, it is vital that there is free and fair competition in the mainframe sphere in the country, it added.

The report comes ahead of large spending by India on e-governance and technology projects, including the UID project.

Vital data like that of UIDs will require storage formats that are open and free of all constraints like royalties and patent claims, according to the report. "Storing large data sets and performing online verification on IBM mainframe z/OS will be eminently possible, but the risk would be in ceding some control over the information to IBM as a result of the proprietary standard," it added.

One of the key recommendations of the report is that vendors of high-end computers have to unbundle hardware and software.

IBM servers face vigorous competition, and its System z servers constitute less than 10 percent of all server revenue and 0.03 percent of total server shipments globally, the company said in its statement.


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