May 16, 2014
Unicom returns PowerHouse expert to fold
Bob Deskin fielded questions about the PowerHouse products for more than a decade on the PowerHouse-L mailing list. When a question from the vendor -- for many of those years, Cognos -- was required, Deskin did the answering. He was not able to speak for IBM in a formal capacity about the software. But he defined the scope of product performance, as well as soothed the concerns from a customer base when it felt abandoned.
After retiring from IBM's PowerHouse ADT unit last year, Deskin's back in the field where he's best known. The new owners of the PowerHouse tools, Unicom Global, added him to the team in a consultant's capacity.
New owners of classic MPE tools, like PowerHouse, are not always so savvy about keeping the tribal knowledge in place. In Deskin's case, he's been retained to know about the OpenVMS product owners' issues, as well as those from the 3000 community. There's another HP platform that's still available for PowerHouse customer, too.
As part of UNICOM's commitment to the PowerHouse suite of products, I have been brought on board as a consultant to work with the UNICOM PowerHouse team to enhance the support and product direction efforts.
For anyone not familiar with my background, I started in this business in the early '70s as a programmer and systems analyst. I joined Cognos (then Quasar) in 1981 after evaluating QUIZ and beta testing QUICK for a large multinational. Over the years, I’ve been in customer support, technical liaison, quality control, education, documentation, and various advisory roles. For the past 12 years, until my retirement from IBM in 2013, I was the Product Manager for PowerHouse, PowerHouse Web, and Axiant.
The story behind the story of new PowerHouse ownership is a plan for enhancing the products, even as a site's sideways migration to a supported HP platform might be underway. In order to help retain a customer in the proprietary PowerHouse community, the new owners know they need to improve the products' capabilities
In one example of such a sideways migration -- where PowerHouse remains the constant platform element while everything else changes -- Paul Stennett of house builder Wainhomes in the UK reported that an MPE-to-UX move began with a change in database. The target was not Oracle, either.
We actually migrated to Eloquence rather than Oracle, which meant the data conversion was pretty simple -- Eloquence emulates IMAGE on the HP 3000. The only issue was KSAM files which we couldn't migrate. However, Eloquence has a better solution, and allows third party indexes, and therefore generic key retrieval of data. For instance, surname = "Smi@" etc... Testing was around 3 months.
Our HP 3000 applications go back over 20 years and have been continually developed over time. I have had experience with other [replacement] packages for the housebuilding industry, in particular COINS, However, with the mission to keep the re-training and disruption to the business to a minimum, the migration option was the best route for us.
I completely agree that you can gain major benefits from replacing a system [completely instead of migrating it.] I guess it depends on what type of business you are in. If you are an online retailer, for example, then technology can save costs and improve efficiency. As they say, it's horses for courses.
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