Nevermind About That Power, Mainframe Microcode Contract
February 24, 2014 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Remember the contractual change that IBM put out a year ago, which was locking down access to licensed internal code for System z mainframes, Power Systems, and various storage arrays based on Power7 machinery? Fohgettaboutit, as we say in nearby Brooklyn.
In announcement letter 113-027 from last February, Big Blue said it had revised the terms and conditions to machine code on these machines, making it not only explicit that licenses to machine code cannot change hands, but that they may not do so without a customer signing a license acceptance agreement. The changes were supposed to go into effect on August 1, but in July last year as the deadline was approaching, Big Blue pushed that date out to April 1, 2014.
Now, as the new deadline is approaching, in announcement letter 114-042, IBM has simply said that it is no longer requiring the signing of these revised licensed agreements. The company provided no explanation as to why it was making the changes a year ago, gave no explanation of why it was pushed out, and gave no explanation why it was now dropping the issue.
The interesting bit about all of the machines listed in the original announcement is that they all have capacity on demand features, and as I said before, that would seem to indicate that IBM was worried about someone being able to activate latent capacity on these machines by moving bits of microcode around.
The latest announcement does provide some clues to IBM’s new tactic in this statement:
Machine Code on such Machines remains subject to the terms of the IBM License Agreement for Machine Code. For such IBM Machines, the user will convey its acceptance of the IBM License Agreement for Machine Code through the use of the Machine. Such IBM Machines are now designated as “Acceptance-By-Use Machines” as described in the license.
So you agree to the terms by using the machine, no paperwork is necessary. How IBM can make this valid for existing customers is beyond me, and my lawyer wife is off skiing with the children as I write this, so she can’t help.
You can see the license agreement for machine code and licensed internal code (often called firmware) at this link. It will put you to sleep faster than a warm cup of milk with a splash of amaretto in it. Rest assured.