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December 04, 2008

Q&A: Toting Up Transition's Tally

Billmillercloseup

Bill Miller finds solutions that add up for 3000 sites, no matter where a client is headed. The founder of financials app vendor Genesis Total Solutions, Miller has a customer base that is both migrating and homesteading. His firm supports either choice with no end date for staying and no changes required for leaving.

The solution at Genesis was to build a work-alike version of the company’s application and then give the clients a choice to carry them into the future. As a 3000 community veteran of more than 25 years, Miller respects the value in a stable platform, but he’s also founding his future on the opportunity offered by moving to Windows, Unix or Linux.

    The Genesis apps run standalone on many 3000 sites, and ever-more industry standard platforms, but they’re also embedded in Escalate Retail’s Ecometry e-commerce applications. This app-within-an-app perspective, bolstered by experience and knowledge of the 3000 customer, gives Miller a profile we couldn’t resist. It’s not easy to find a Founder who’s as facile in the world of open systems as in the homeland of HP 3000 users. We contacted him to tell us how the company has modernized the interface of its 3000 application with ScreenJet, but discovered a story even deeper.

What’s your mix of homestead and migrating sites now, seven years after HP’s pullout announcement?

    We probably have at least as many HP 3000 customers, if not more, than we do on open systems. Most people who have the 3000 would just as soon not change. They’ve invested time and money in it and it works, or they’d be using something else.

    I think most of our clients are facing the situation that a migration is going to have to be done. They’re looking at their options, but I rarely find someone who’s in a panic to do something about it. What we’ve told them, and the reason they may be going slower than some migrators, is that we’ve already migrated our software over. And with the Eloquence database that we’re using [for migrations], it’s basically a similar database to the one on the 3000, so we can migrate your data. We tell them if they give us a few days, we can migrate programs and data over to an open platform. They say that’s great, they don’t have to worry about it anymore. If they want to migrate next week, or six months from now, or five years from now, fine.

What technologies have you picked to make the transitions easier for you, as well as your customers?
    We use ScreenJet, and AcuCOBOL from Micro Focus, and Eloquence. The conversion has been clean. Since we’ve done it and are ready to help them whenever they want, they don’t have to sweat it. We also don’t charge for our migration, other than the new runtime charges now in place. They don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money. If they buy our software one time, they never have to buy it again.

Is migration making business for you on 3000s, since you have the most 3000-like technologies in place?

    I had one guy who wasn’t a current customer and wanted to migrate. I told him we’d get him onto our 3000 application and off his custom software. Then you know you’re only a few days off your migration to an open system. We use migration as a selling factor [on 3000s].

How did the migration become simpler for you and your customers?

    We made it a policy to stick with vanilla HP choices. Yes, we use an Adager or DBGeneral for database handling, but when it came down to our processes we didn’t use a third party anything, for development or support. We used QUERY that came with the 3000, but the new Eloquence comes with a QUERY [for open systems] just like that one.

So what motivated the choice of ScreenJet in migration and modernization?

    We were looking for something as easy to migrate with as we could get. We went with the easiest tool to get us as close as we could to what we were doing before the migration, because we had another issue — we’ve got a lot of clients. We didn’t want to come up with something entirely different that we’d have to retrain them on how to use the system. In all the systems we have migrated, I haven’t had to do one training session.

    ScreenJet helped the migration process because we moved our screens over virtually identical to what they were before. I could use the migration tools and set up a screen just the way I wanted, using AcuBench’s ScreenJet conversion tools. I could do it in just a few minutes in some cases. For as many screens as we had over the 10 systems we have, I needed something as easy as possible.

07:00 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink

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