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The Three Rs of V6R1

February 4, 2008

By the three Rs, we don't mean Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic or even Reduce, Reuse, Recyle. We're referring to what happened with the development tools in V6R1: Re-branding, Re-packaging and Re-pricing.

Last week we talked about some new functions in the tools and compilers area coming with V6R1. In that post, we mentioned that new packaging was planned for the development tools. In the days since the announcement, we have read and responded to numerous reactions to the 3 Rs of development tools on the WDSCi list on Midrange.com. It should be noted that the 3 Rs here apply not only to the workstation-based tools but also to the host-based tools, such as the compilers, PDM, SEU, SDA, etc.

Re-Branding

These development tools have now been branded as Rational. IBM acquired Rational some time ago, and since its strengths are in tools for developers, it makes sense for IBM to re-brand other development tools, including compilers, that way. It certainly makes more sense to call them "Rational" than calling them by the old brand "WebSphere" as in WebSphere Development Studio--a rather incongruous name the compiler package received back in the days when IBM Software Group was into all things WebSphere. 

This re-branding also represents something more significant than the name of the product set. The organization of the people in IBM who develop, market and sell these products has also changed. Both the products and the people are now re-housed (a fourth R?) into the Rational organization within IBM. In theory this should make it easier to get funding for i5/OS tooling enhancements; time will tell.

Re-Packaging

We touched on the re-packaging part in last week's blog entry. However we only talked about it relative to the workstation tools (i.e., those currently packaged in WDSC). The rest of the story is that the host-based developer tools--the compilers and ADTS, the toolset containing PDM, SEU, SDA, DFU and RLU, are affected.

Perhaps we should review how the mainstream IBM developer tools have been packaged prior to V6R1. Basically, it was a one-size-fits-all approach--all of the compilers (RPG, COBOL, C and C++) in both flavors (OPM and ILE) were packaged along with all the primary developer tools (ADTS and WDSC) into one big package called WDS (WebSphere Development Studio). The package was tier priced (i.e., based on the relative power of your host processor; tiers were P05, P10, P20, etc. up to P60).

It didn't take a rocket scientist to work out that if you were a shop with a very large main system (e.g., P40 or above), you were generally better off buying a separate P05 system for your developers, as the savings of the compiler/tools package alone paid for the hardware. No one, including IBM, considered this cheating. It was just good business sense for customers. However, in retrospect, it was not such good business sense for the folks at IBM who rely on software revenue to fund their development efforts.

On the other side of the coin are the shops that didn't have large numbers of developers but needed the ability to have a consultant in from time to time to maintain and compile a few lines of RPG code on their host system. They were forced to buy the whole WDS package when they perhaps only needed a small portion.

Another side effect of "all compilers and tools in one package" is that developers continued to use many compilers and tools, because they were there. So, for example, some developers use ILE compilers, but others preferred to stick with the OPM languages. In some shops, perhaps ILE was used exclusively for new development but the old programs could just stay in OPM for that elusive "someday" when we get around to converting them. Despite the fact that folks like us try to convince people that compelling reasons exist to use modern languages, a direct financial motivation to change didn't exist.

Of course, that situation works the other way as well. When the workstation-based tools (WDSC/RSE and CODE) became part of the compiler package rather than separately chargeable tools, we saw a significant increase in their adoption rates and the corresponding productivity benefits.

So, was the one size fits all packaging a good thing or a bad thing? There is probably no definitive answer for that. It was financially better for some shops while probably penalizing others. It caused some shops to move forward with tooling, but often enabled other shops to stagnate and not advance with languages as they might have otherwise.

Be that as it may, we are where we are with packaging. And in V6R1, we'll be somewhere completely different.

Where will we be? The packaging will be somewhat more granular. The ILE compilers (including RPG, COBOL, C and C++) are in a separate package, and separately chargeable, from the OPM. Rational calls them "heritage" compilers (including OPM RPG and COBOL as well as S/36 and S/38 versions). The host-based tools (e.g., PDM, SEU, SDA, etc) are no longer included with either compiler package; they are in their own package called ADTS. 

The workstation-based tools will be available in two flavors, which are very different from the current two flavors of WDSC and WDSC-AE. Last week's post gave a high-level description of the new RDi and RDi SOA packages, so we won't repeat that here. In addition--and this is the part that lit up the e-mail lists--with the new packaging comes a new pricing model for all development tools and compilers.

Re-Pricing

With V6R1, the pricing model for all of the compilers and tools has become user based. That is, development shops will pay for the number of developers using each set of compilers and development tools.

The first thing to understand is that if you are upgrading to V6R1 from an earlier release and if you are currently on software maintenance (SWMA) with IBM, then you will be entitled to receive a certain number of users for each of the two compiler packages and for ADTS. The number of users for each package you're entitled to is based on your host system's tier level. You are also entitled to (unlimited, as we understand it) licenses for the current WDSC package for your developers, but it should be noted that WDSC won't be enhanced for V6R1 or beyond.

So if you upgrade and have more than your entitled number of developers using each of the types of compilers and tools, the upgrade will cost you more. If you don't have more developers than your entitlement, your upgrade will cost you nothing. However, if you want to use the new workstation-based tools--either RDi or RDi SOA--as far as the currently announced pricing is concerned, you must pay for all those licenses. In other words, no entitlement is allowed for RDi or RDi SOA for upgrade customers (except for the small number of customers who purchased WDSC Advanced Edition or who purchased WDSC via Passport Advantage) there has been some discussion of a possible change to this plan regarding RDi for existing customers in the future, but whether that will happen or what form it may take is unclear. We're sincerely hoping that something will change because we fear that the financial hurdle may be a barrier to advancement to better tooling and that would be big step backward.

The Future

So, are the three Rs good or bad for System i shops? The picture is still very fuzzy. In the meantime, watch this space for more on the future with V6R1.

Posted February 4, 2008| Permalink

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