Speedware, Cognos, working together
PowerHouse migration support, from the beginning

Speedware embraces the constant growth of change

    If there’s an HP 3000 vendor who has made a bigger set of changes than Speedware in the 3000’s Transition Era, we’d be hard pressed to find it. The company purchased development solutions as well as companies that create applications, saw itself purchased twice, and now is working to establish a migration services relationship with former arch-rival Cognos.

    The companies just announced their agreement to work together on migration projects. Speedware's president Andy Kulakowski said his company had a meeting at the Cognos facility in August, preparing to combine forces on migrating PowerHouse customers to other platform versions of that 4GL.

    Kulakowski says that more than half of his company's revenues now come out of Speedware’s  professional services work. Speedware's director of marketing VP Chris Koppe said that for a PowerHouse customer, moving to PowerHouse on a non-3000 platform is the least risky migration strategy.

    PowerHouse and Speedware in step together, to work for a 3000 customer on the move? What’s next, cats and dogs living together? We asked Kulakowski, as well as the company’s Koppe, about what has led the company down these and other unexpected roads.

How does your experience in development tools impact the typical migration engagement? HP seems to be reporting that customers should focus on duplicating functionality first, then adding new features at a later stage.

    What we’re starting to see a lot more in this migration market is slowly identifying this opportunity to modernize when people are migrating. There is a slow development of traction for the idea of customers not only migrating their app, but then to leverage our background and history in these tools. We want to offer them productive methods of modernizing their legacy application code.

HP and other migration advisors have been counseling customers to get a “same-set” of functions migrated first, then expand to the modernization. Do you see customers gaining confidence in migration capabilities, so they do the modernizing right alongside their migrations?

    If you think about it, years ago the migration situation was very immature. Today if you look at that landscape you see a lot of other signs, a lot of success stories. There are a lot of vendors like ourselves that have developed very streamlined expertise. So yes, there’s a lot more confidence out there.

   A customer might be doing their first migration, but since they can rely on success stories and references of environments so similar to theirs gives them a lot more confidence on how to go about these. Just from two years ago.

    These are very much unlike the ERP implementations we have known. Migration projects are going in on-time and on-budget.

Why do the customers you engage feel that confidence now? It’s not just simply because of the extra advice from those who’ve gone ahead of them, is it?

   Migrations are more about re-platforming. That means you’re keeping the apps the same. It’s very easy to compare the results of before and after testing. The migration process assisted by tools becomes extremely simplified in terms of what has to happen to the code.

    Modernization projects, where you’re trying to get to the .NET, Java, relational database plus a whole new platform, reengineering code as part of that process — those projects are very manual-intervention oriented. As a result there’s a lot more room for human error and bugs that are generated as part of that process. Testing is very difficult to compare the before and after. Those projects have a much higher risk of overshooting budgets and timelines.

Speedware’s made an investment in existing tools, like AMXW, and then improved on that acquisition. You’ve also built up a tool from scratch like DBMotion. What role are tools playing in 3000 migrations today?

    We’re adding more functionality and predictability into the tools as well. That development of tools is to make application migrations smoother and smoother.

Are more of your migration engagements now in the re-platforming area?

    Right now, yes. It’s more of a recent trend where we see people wanting to modernize at the same time. That’s something we’d like to evangelize as well.

What kind of company is willing to go that extra step, to show their board more than “we’ve got the same thing, just on a new platform?”

    Well, even for the company which wants to modernize, we develop a phased approach. If you want to go from A to Z in one project, you are setting yourself up for a huge risk, and a failure. To do all that in one shot is very risky.

Do you have an engagement process where you book all the phases before you begin, or do you perform the first phase before trying to win the next one?

    We focus on the phase one. But in a high percentage of the time, phase one does include some modernization of the base platform. When we start talking about the other stuff — moving to Java, improving your interface, reporting, analytics — those are highly recommended as phase two goals. While we complete phase one, we’re selling and pitching the phase two.

Are people now willing to commit more funding to these kinds of projects?

    Yes. I think this is going to be our busiest year.

A few years back it was common to hear from a migration services company that they had people on the bench, waiting for engagements. Has that changed for you by now?

    We have our own people completely engaged, plus we have a stable of outside talent that we are keeping busy. So we’re more than 100 percent engaged now.

If you’re a 3000 specialist who has good knowledge of target environments as well, would they qualify for that outside resource?

    We’d like them to get in touch with us. One of our biggest challenges is getting access to these HP 3000 people as quickly as we need them. These engagements tend to be some of the longer ones. They average 9 to 16 months.

HP’s talked about its end of support deadline as being “at least” 2008. How would you feel about seeing this date pushed out again?

   I don’t think it would impact what we’re doing to a significant degree. Ultimately we expect this to be a very long business, beyond HP’s end of life for support date. Even for companies who are homesteading, it’s not a question of if you move. It’s a question of when you move.

    This is not a business that ends for us in 2008. It’s a business that goes on for five or 10 more years.