Marketing 101: Why Progress Software Pointed Me to Neon Enterprise Software

Dennis Byron

Why is Progress Software telling me that Progress is not Neon Enterprise Software? Why is Progress Software telling me that I should read an IBM memo about Neon Enterprise Software? It's been 20 years since I did any serious market research about mainframe enterprise software and I had hair when I last marketed mainframe software, but the mainframe market and mainframe software marketing cannot have changed to the degree that it's OK for Competitor A to promote Competitor B.


So what's happening here?


For the technical details, see the related post of fellow IT Business Edge blogger Arthur Cole, <strong>Mainframes Garnering Key Support</strong>. But it's the marketing angle of the story that interests me, and the news may save you some money in your IT budget if you are an IBM mainframe user.


Neon Enterprise Software announced new software on June 30. The mainframe marketing guys that mentored me back in the day would never have announced a product in the U.S.- Sugar Land, Texas to be precise - going into the July 4th weekend! The software, called zPrime, promises to reduce mainframe rental fees and mainframe software licensing fees.


There is a little blogosphere play on the product, some of it from IBM users wondering how it works. But the most prolific Twitterer and blogger on the subject is Neon's own "corporate technologist," whatever that is. One analyst firm has reviewed zPrime and talked to beta users. I don't know the firm but their credentials look legit. But the analyst firm keeps up the mantra that says "Don't ask how it works."


It is unusual that no other enterprise software analyst firm has commented publicly. Marketing 101 says you line up the favorable gurus before the release of the software. But it was announced on July 4th, like I said, and it is mainframe software. So, like I said, the normal marketing rules aren't applying here.


According to the few news stories that have been posted so far -- not counting simple regurgitations of the over-the-top zPrime press release (congrats to Arthur Cole; it looks like his was the first hard news story!) -- zPrime lets you unload IMS, DB2, COBOL and CICS workloads from more expensive run-of-the-mill IBM mainframes.onto less expensive IBM processors called zIIP and zAAP. From a marketing perspective, those names prove to me that at least The IBM Company still knows how to do marketing.


But the issue apparently is that IBM "designed" zIIPs and zAAPs to run "eligible" database and Java workloads, respectively, not IMS, DB2, COBOL and CICS. Apparently IMS and DB2 are not "eligible" databases and COBOL and CICS workloads are what really run on most IBM mainframes, not Java programs. Designed and eligible are in quotes because these are allegedly IBM marketing restrictions, not technical restrictions. IBM even uses the word "disabled" to describe zAAPs.


This reminds me of the old story that IBM used to cripple its 1200-line-per-minute (lpm) printers with a rubber band in the factory if you ordered a 600-lpm printer. Then later it would charge you an arm and leg to upgrade the printer to 1200-lpm in the field. Of course, I'm sure that was just a story. And maybe zIIPs and zAAPs are something different than run-of-the-mill mainframes with different names


So it also looks like zPrime might make some lawyers some money, too, even before it saves you any (if it ever does). And that's apparently what Progress wants you and me to know. The fact that Neon has nothing to do with Progress' Data Direct Division is just a ploy to get me to the first rule of marketing: sow fear, uncertainty and doubt about your competitor.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 13, 2009 8:20 AM Olexiy Olexiy  says:

I wrote such program in March, 2009, then share my idea with Neon (I worked for Neon till Sep 2008). I know that Peter Schaefer (DataDirect) was studied my code. And then zPrime appeared.

Dec 20, 2010 4:00 AM Network Inventory Software Network Inventory Software  says:

It's not a new story. I remember back in the 90s when some independent developers discovered Microsoft was intentionally coding it's Office for Mac badly, so as to make it run slower on Apple machines. In an age of planned obsolescence is it really a surprise?

Dec 20, 2010 8:13 AM dennis byron dennis byron  says: in response to Network Inventory Software

Nope.  Which is why I included the paragraph about the 600 and 1200-lpm printers.  That goes back to the 50s.  Thanks for the comment.  Dennis

Jul 21, 2011 5:27 AM Colorado Marketing Companies Colorado Marketing Companies  says:

I'm surprised that these rumors of 'crippleware' slowing down products so 'upgrades' can later speed them up is not investigated more thoroughly. It seems like even though these may be highly technical and ultimately niggling issues it is still fraud and at the hijack prices some of these software suites are sold probably a huge chunk of change!


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