Microsoft Sunsets Zune...and the Mainframe Migration Alliance

Microsoft has quietly disbanded its Mainframe Migration Alliance. Microsoft invited relevant business partners to join the MMA as long as they tried to replace mainframes with (many more) X86 servers running Microsoft Windows. However, with the mainframe enjoying a well documented renaissance, in part because of its leading cloud computing credentials, the MMA has not met its founder's expectations. In fact, the MMA might have actually helped IBM highlight the important functional and non-functional differences between mainframes and other platforms. Keep in mind that IBM sells many types of servers, including X86 servers running Linux and Windows. One size does not fit all.

That said, Microsoft isn't giving up exactly. If you visit the now defunct MMA Web site (http://www.mainframemigration.org) you'll be automatically redirected to Microsoft's "Platform Modernization Alliance." The PMA's mission: move everything (or at least more applications) to Microsoft Windows Server. Mainframes, UNIX servers, several mid-range servers, and non-Microsoft application environments all enjoy equal billing.

This change in strategy strikes me as classic "bean counter" thinking. Why not fund a single "migration" program and save Microsoft some expense dollars? That makes some sense financially but not so much sense technically. Perhaps it's the right business decision for Microsoft, but by definition Microsoft has scaled back its emphasis on migrating from mainframes.

by Timothy Sipples March 30, 2011 in Current Affairs
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Did Forbes Get the Math Wrong?

While I'm on the subject of mathematics, Quentin Hardy wrote a short item at Forbes.com comparing the performance of IBM's stock starting from the date when IBM CEO Sam Palmisano took the helm in 2002. IBM's stock price is up about 57%. He then points out that IBM's stock price rise is less than HP, Oracle, EMC, and Accenture but more than Intel, Microsoft, the Dow Jones Index, and the S&P 500 Index during the same period. And then he points out that 57% is less than 59%, the total yield on a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond during that period.

Notice any problem with this analysis? Yes, that's right: IBM has paid stockholders an unbroken stream of dividends for nearly a century, and those dividends increased under Palmisano's tenure. Last quarter IBM paid $0.65 per share in dividends. That's about 1.6% per year based on recent stock prices. Current dividend yields are approximately 0.6% for Oracle, 0.8% for HP, 0.0% for EMC, 1.7% for Accenture, 3.4% for Intel, and 2.5% for Microsoft. The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond paid no additional dividend: the 59% yield is the entire yield.

Still notice any problem? Capital gains on stocks are taxed much differently than yields on bonds under U.S. tax law. The tax rate on U.S. Treasury bond interest is roughly double the long-term capital gains tax rate, at least for taxpayers who are likely to own both.

I realize Mr. Hardy was only writing a brief "isn't it interesting?" sort of article, but if you're going to judge a CEO's performance strictly based on financial results delivered to stockholders, shouldn't you actually compare, you know, financial results delivered to stockholders?

Many IT professionals also get the math wrong too often. For example, for over a decade IBM has been delivering "technology dividends" with every new mainframe model. Yet for some reason these dividends aren't always well understood. IBM mainframes also help you avoid myriad IT taxes, legally — taxes such as underutilized resources, excess networking costs, security breaches, and power/space/cooling inefficiencies, among others. Just treat your investment well to enjoy the highest yields and the best rewards.

by Timothy Sipples March 8, 2011 in Economics
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A Future Mainframer

Sometimes the simplest phenomena are the funniest, as this adorable future mainframer demonstrates in this video:

I had exactly the same reaction when HP reinvented thousands of years of mathematics, declaring that smaller numbers are actually greater than bigger numbers.

by Timothy Sipples March 2, 2011 in Future, People
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