Mainframe Software That Isn't As Hard On The Wallet

While prices for all sizes of computers keep falling, the cost of running software on mainframes and large networks has been rising. Software companies aren't jacking up purchase prices, just their maintenance fees and charges for transferring software licenses from one machine to another. Recently, some large customers and the Society for Information Management, a trade group, have been protesting the inflation--apparently with some success.

Digital Equipment Corp. said it will no longer charge customers thousands of dollars each time they move one of its packages from an old DEC computer to a more powerful one running the same operating system. Computer Associates International Inc., meanwhile, says it will stop basing its software charges on the size of the machine it runs on--so-called "tiered pricing." CA also is offering other options similar to deals it struck with Citicorp and the U.S. Postal Service. CA will now let other clients buy a blanket "enterprise license" that allows for flexibility in moving software between computers and locks in for five years the cost of maintenance fees that customers pay to receive scheduled updates.

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