IT Management

Inside IBM


IBM Charters are rare; the last one, the Business Partner Charter, was introduced in 1996. Deliverables for a Charter range from immediate to long-term.

Pricing attracted the most attention, especially for memory and Linux engines. One of the highlights was $10,000-per-Gigabyte-memory for zSeries, which was reduced from $35,000 to $45,000/GB, and $65,000/GB just 15 months earlier. zSeries Linux processors, better known as Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines, have been standardized at $125,000 per engine, regardless of whether they are on z990, z900, or z800.

The charter itself is broken down into three words, innovation, value and community, with three points describing each concept; z/Series and on-demand precessing are mentioned in each point. Innovation also focuses on mission-critical workloads and simplified system administration through autonomic/self-managing capabilities. Value includes reduced costs and usage-based charging.


The charter concept of community relates to IBM’s plans to develop programs to encourage and support companies, including start-ups, to create mainframe application and system software products. In addition, IBM hopes to create business partner programs for companies that offer support and other services directly to mainframe customers. IBM will provide a broad range of services to assist customers with on-demand mainframe applications. Another community focus is support for open standards and other interfaces that will make it easier for the mainframe to be a full partner in large, heterogeneous environments.

By far the most intriguing, and perhaps the boldest, concept of the Mainframe Charter is a whole new generation of mainframe personnel. This would address one of the major cons on most industry analysts’ mainframe pros and cons lists: the dwindling pool of skilled resources as mainframe experts reach retirement age. Exactly how this will be accomplished has yet to be determined, but it will almost certainly involve universities, colleges, and technical schools. In addition, the growing number of alternatives to Computer Science courses offer multiple avenues to success.


The Mainframe Charter does not claim to be a bunch of new things that IBM had never done before. The charter is primarily a framework for planned future IBM investment, stated as goals. In short, a vision for the future of the mainframe.

The Mainframe Charter also provides some software price reductions. Effective October 1, z/OS Workload License Charges (WLC) pricing was reduced for sites with fewer than 315 MSUs. z800 customers can also expect WLC pricing soon.

Also as of October 1, the price point was reduced up to 80 percent for New Application License Charges (NALC). The main qualifiers for NALC pricing are WebSphere, Domino, PeopleSoft, Siebel and SAP, among others.

In October or November, expect to see capacity on demand (CoD) availability and pricing models expand from standard z990 processors to z990 IFL engines. By the end of the year, a broader, more flexible version of the recently announced WebSphere Entry Option will be available. It provides less-than-machine capacity purchases via LPARbased pricing.


The most technically interesting software price reduction applies only to z990 and will have taken effect October 1. IBM will lower the MSU values in z990 microcode by about 10 percent, which should reduce affected middleware and system software prices by 5 percent. For z990 sites with software licensed to specific MSU or MIPS levels, the Sub- Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) will report the lower MSU level, and Work Load Manager (WLM) should automatically increase both soft and hard LPAR caps by 10 percent. The end result should be 10 percent more processing for no additional cost in software. Of course, since your z990’s overall capacity has not changed, the MSUs assigned to each LPAR by WLM should be reviewed, given that the z990 now appears to have 10 percent fewer MSUs.

In addition to the new $10,000/GB memory pricing, base z990s will now include 16GB instead of 8GB, but with no increase in base price. A further z990 incentive is the On- Demand Business Investment Promotion, available until the end of the year. Sites can use their 5 percent rebate on a new z990 to purchase zSeries WebSphere software, xSeries Blade servers, storage products, certain zSeries hardware, and zSeries IBM Global Services (IGS) assistance.

Details of the Mainframe Charter are available at Under “Resources,” click on “Frequently Asked Questions.” Z