This month's relicense quotes that Unicom delivered to Powerhouse customers could spark some migrations. Although these 3000s have held on by using out-of-support software, the five and six-figure prices to return to MPE/iX support "are difficult to imagine as a sustainable model," said Charles Finley of Xformix. "The price makes it worthwhile to move away from Powerhouse entirely."
Finley, who's been assisting 3000 shops in migrations and conversions for 15 years and more, isn't the only vendor who's skeptical of the Unicom pricing scheme. "That strategy will not last long," he said of the sky-high quotes. "We can move the Powerhouse to a Java-based non-proprietary alternative for something in that [$300,000] ballpark. Pricing like that [from a vendor] only provides incentive for people to leave the product."
The full scope of what a customer is leaving is worth some consideration, however. Finley offered the scope of a typical 3000-using Powerhouse customer's datacenter lineup.
Focusing on the base language is misleading at best. The background processing/shell scripting is usually more difficult to migrate than the base application. I suspect that there could be more to a relicensing story than simply the Powerhouse license. For example, if the customer has some dependent 3GL code such as COBOL, a few third-party products such as Suprtool and MPEX, along with JCL, UDCs, and Command Files—the cost to migrate all of that, and the database and other file types, could well exceed the price of only the Powerhouse license.
Hearing such please-go-away pricing can be hard to comprehend. A decade or two of using a foundational tool like Powerhouse shouldn't end with a six-figure quote, but sometimes such a lengthy relationship drifts to a bottom-line-only state. "Don't they normally look at the financials before determining price?" asked consultant Craig Lalley. We've heard about that same software update strategy from another support consultant.
"They saw the client was Boeing, but it was a very small division of Boeing," the consultant said. "Not at all the size of datacenter budget as the parent corporation." A smaller price tag was negotiated, as it sometimes can be. A smaller tag altogether might mean leaving the Powerhouse licenses alone.
"It sounds cheaper to stay on MPE," said former OpenMPE director Tracy Johnson, "even if it is just a daily copy of the data and the application migrates. You might even save money by moving to a lower tier MPE system to host the copied data." We'd love to hear a story about how a Powerhouse license became less costly.