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Microsoft Invests in TurboHercules – A Small French Software Company

Microsoft made an undisclosed amount in “TurboHercules,” a French software company which has accused IBM of anticompetitive tactics in Europe related to mainframe computers. Founded in 2009, TurboHercules is an open source program that allows users to run mainframe software on personal computers without accessing the mainframe hardware.

The Register noting that the startup’s goal is to “undercut IBM’s mainframe business.”

The cash infusion, which happened last week, comes hot on the heels of Microsoft’s orchestration of a $450m purchase of 882 patents from Novell as part of Attachmate’s acquisition of that software maker.

Microsoft’s investment was announced by TurboHercules, set up to market open-source mainframe “emulator” software, allowing mainframe apps to run on non-IBM hardware. It said Microsoft’s funding was its first “outside investment” although it says it hoped to bring in other investors.

IBM denies acting illegally in the TurboHercules/T3 case, and said it was entitled to defend its intellectual property.

TurboHercules is too smart to take a direct run at the mainframe by saying that Hercules can be used to move licenses for IBM mainframe operating systems to Windows or Linux platforms. (For all intents and purposes, Solaris and Mac OS are unimportant for Hercules except perhaps on demo machines). But TurboHercules contends that IBM’s software licenses for z/OS and other modern mainframe OS have provisions in them that allow customers to restore their licenses to another machine in the event of a disaster so long as the primary mainframe is dead. And so TurboHercules is pitching its commercial-grade Hercules as a DR option, particularly for companies using vintage System/390 and ES/9000, and zSeries mainframes that are long-since off IBM maintenance but still doing useful work out there in the data centers of the world.

Soon after incorporating in France, TurboHercules asked IBM France for a meeting to discuss how the modern mainframe OSes – z/OS, z/VSE, and z/VM – might be properly and legally licensed on Hercules. Thus far, IBM hasn’t been interested in the idea. (Obviously.)


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