Putting a price on your working mainframe applications

Serious value

We all have access to desktop or mobile apps that are useful to us personally but, if they stopped working – and let’s face it, they do – it doesn’t really matter as relatively, they have little value. But if your application is doing something serious and useful for your organization, then it has a great deal of value. What if it went wrong? What if you needed to ensure that other people could run it – quickly – without any disruption? What if you also needed it to run elsewhere? What value would you put on that and what would happen to the organization if you couldn’t do those things?

This blog explores how valuable the deployed application environment – often called the ‘runtime’ – is to the organization.

Why free might not be that cheap

So, your organization has built a valuable application. You realize that the technology you use to build the “app” is valuable. You happily pay for that. You realize there is technology involved in deploying and running the app too. But here, you are faced with two choices: you could either pay for the running of the app, or pay nothing.

Wouldn’t you just choose the free option?

A fee for deployment seems strange: other vendors offer it for free. After all, it’s only ‘running’ an application you’ve already built. Plus you’ve already paid once for the development technology, right?

But when you look into why it’s free, you discover that your vendor does not offer a strong support service. In fact, the agreement says that you’re pretty much on your own if anything goes wrong1.

Your business priority is to have a robust application, where you can dial the helpline as soon as something goes wrong.

So why are some runtime environments ‘free’?

If something is free, there may be less “service” than you had hoped for. First, customer support is likely to be thin on the ground, because there is no funding to pay a team of experts to provide maintenance, support and emergency assistance. Informing the vendor that your applications have crashed doesn’t mean they have the staff and resources to sort it out before your customers start complaining.

A vendor offering you deployment for free typically offers no commercial responsibility if something goes wrong. By choosing this “sold as seen” approach, you must be prepared to run the risk of your applications not working, or find an alternative means of insuring against that risk.

Furthermore, the choice of platform may be limited due to the lack of revenue created from not charging for deployment. In order to have freedom of choice, an additional charge may be incurred. And without being able to choose whichever platform you need, will the product hold as much value? The applications should work around your business needs – not the other way around. Applications are likely to have a shorter life expectancy if there are limitations holding you back from what you really need them to do.

The story of Linux

In a time when UNIX was a collection of vendor-specific variants, all tied to machinery (AIX, Solaris, HP/UX, Uniware/SCO), there was no true “open” version for UNIX. The stage was set for someone to break the mould. Linus Torvalds undertook a personal project to create a new, open source operating system kernel. Free to the world, many different people have contributed to it, from techies to college students, winning him much admiration, and numerous community forums and websites offering help have emerged. But – it saw few takers among commercial organizations – except the odd research department.

That was until someone bravely said, “We will offer professional support services for Linux (that version only) for a small fee”. Without the support service offered by Red Hat, Novell, and several others, Linux would not have had a commercial future.

Today, major companies including Google, Amazon, IBM and Virgin America use Linux for servers, desktops and database systems. Linux now outsells many other UNIX variants by some distance. Why? Not just because it was free or open source, but because the valuable service it provided organizations with was good value. But people opt to pay for additional support because their organizations must be able to rectify any problems, which is where organizations such as Red Hat come in. Linus was the father of the idea, but Red Hat (and their competitors) made it a viable commercial technology.

Genuine return

Some of the concerns mentioned may be unthinkable for your organization – there is a way to obtain genuine deployment value which more than covers your investment.

Access to a dedicated team of experts to resolve and prioritize any issues your applications encounter could save you from paying a much greater price if things do go wrong. It also means that there will be a better chance of products staying up-and-running, making them a successful investment.

Choice of platform is important to your company. You need to be able to run applications wherever you want. What’s more, your business needs its applications to actually work. Paying for runtime enables you to choose your desired platform.

Robust and resilient applications are the lifeblood of your organization. With 35 years of experience and 15,000 customers, Micro Focus provides an award-winning 24/7 support service. We invest $58M in R&D (research and development). You won’t find a more robust deployment environment for COBOL anywhere. Your application runtime environment is in safe hands.

Micro Focus – supporting the value of your business applications
Micro Focus invests in the future of your applications so you don’t have to. Paying for deployment licenses can ensure that when something goes wrong, the industry leader is just a mouse click away from getting your application back on track.


1 Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has put aside £125m to pay compensation to customers affected by the recent breakdown in its computer systems.

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