Monday, 12 October 2009

Let sleeping dinosaurs lie

(By Anthony Miller – Monday 12th October 2009 1:45pm). Today’s (Monday) FT leader on the US DoJ’s preliminary investigation into IBM’s ‘dominance’ of the mainframe market has got it right in saying that no action is needed.

I joined the IT industry in 1973 as a fresh-faced, long-haired trainee systems engineer with, you guessed it, IBM. We spent much time on training courses learning how to observe the anti-trust rules that bound IBM to ‘play fair’ with competition, and meanwhile watched as hardware imitators sprung up in and around the mainframe industry. In those days, mainframes really were the only game in town for ‘serious’ commercial data processing, and companies such as Amdahl, Natsemi, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Memorex, Telex, and many others besides, all grabbed a share of the market with ‘plug compatible’ processors and peripherals.

Well, we all know what’s happened since. Although mainframes are still very much alive and well (contrary to pundits who predicted – and indeed still predict – their demise), they are no longer the only game in town – far from it, of course. Over these past 35+ years, the marketplace applied its inviolable Darwinian rules to the beasts in the mainframe jungle and as a result, the fittest survived.

As the FT says, if IBM has acted improperly in maintaining its monopoly, it should be brought to book. Else, let the company enjoy the fruits of its ever shrinking jungle – after all, it won the right to them ‘fair and square’.

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