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CA Opens Utility Pricing for Mainframes

Keeping its promise to migrate toward more flexible pricing for its software, Computer Associates has unleashed Measured Workload Pricing for its mainframe management products.

CA doesn't use the term, but Mark Combs, senior vice president of corporate pricing at CA, acknowledged that Measure Workload Pricing is a form of utility computing, an increasingly popular pricing model similar to the way consumers receive electricity or water in their homes.

The idea is that customers get more bang for their buck by flipping on a switch or pressing a button to get computing resources piped to their data centers. Customers pay only for what they use and are not charged when the "power" is off. They are also charged according to the volume of resources used, which is based on peaks and valleys in business.

Combs said baseline utilization is charged at a baseline cost in Measured Workload Pricing, with additional uses charged according to a pre-determined, on-demand scale.

In one scenario, a customer with 1000 MIPS on its IBM zSeries for z/OS processor may only be utilizing the machine at 65 percent capacity -- with the balance reserved for potential growth or peak periods. The customer's license costs reflect only the actual capacity used.

Some 20 management software packages in the Islandia, N.Y., company's BrightStor portfolio are supported by Measured Workload Pricing, which is available now. The packages incorporate multiple products and include management for networks, systems, databases, applications, information lifecycle management , storage and identity.

Moreover, customers who have an existing CPU- or MIPS-based license with CA for this portfolio can convert those license terms to a Measured Workload Pricing model.

IBM , HP , Sun Microsystems and Veritas Software are all implementing software-based approaches to utility computing, making the field a many-horse race.

In fact, CA's new offering collides with IBM's Tivoli management software line, but Combs said CA and IBM have learned to play nice while competing hard. For example, CA's Measured Workload Pricing is based on quarterly reports generated by IBM's Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT).

"In the greater scheme of things, it will help IBM as a platform and operating system vendor because we're validating their model and playing on their field," Combs told internetnews.com. "We're competing with IBM's software business, but we're cooperating with them as a platform vendor."

A statement from Erich Clementi, general manager, zSeries, IBM System Group, supports that notion.

"By employing Measured Workload Pricing within their mainframe business model, CA is positioned to better support our mutual customers' computing strategies," said Clementi. "Their usage-based pricing will be good news for the customers of the zSeries platform, as it supports variable software charging, which is aligned with the concepts of an on-demand business model."