Patches remain a revenue producer at HP
HP completes 3000 transition, 12 years later

Modernization's mission sparks acquisition

Migration companies usually need technology tools to achieve success for their clients. It's always been true in the 3000 world. Putting experienced staff to work is important, but keeping everybody on schedule and productive happens more reliably with software to break decades of programming ice.

This fall we learned that MB Foster was putting an in-house migration solution into its product roster. The software was developed to explore the contents of a database. Information that's retrieved is used to shape the data migration that's part of a transformation. 

But sometimes an efficient way to add this kind of transition muscle is to acquire it. As the Transition Era was ramping up in the aftermath of HP's 3000 announcement, Speedware purchased the Neartek software AMXW in 2003. Now that the company's become Fresche Legacy -- reaching out to a new customer base using IBM Series i (AS400) -- it recently acquired a 100 percent interest in Databorough, a UK-based vendor of knowledge mining and reuse software for Series i servers. 

Fresche Legacy says the acquisition broadens its product portfolio to include X-Analysis, X-Migrate and X2E. This software performs environment analysis and code transformation. In this case, the transition is to Java or C# from RPG, COBOL, or a development language called Synon.

Synon goes back more than 25 years in the Series i marketplace, something like the Powerhouse and Speedware 4GL pedigree but first crafted for IBM's System 38 -- a predecessor to the AS/400. IBM held an equity interest in Synon until the firm was sold to Sterling Software in the late '90s. While you're catering to enterprise environments that've been in service as long as the 3000 or IBM's servers, you need to efficiently modernize the oldest of languages.

"This agreement unites two of the most powerful and knowledgeable players in the System i legacy modernization space," said Andy Kulakowski, president and CEO of Fresche Legacy. “Databorough brings to Fresche Legacy more than 20 years of AS400/iSeries experience, a highly pedigreed list of more than 200 enterprise customers, and deep technical knowledge."

Analysis is a crucial element in migration assessments, the first step on the path to moving off a platform. Fresche Legacy still serves 3000 sites, but the newer part of its business is in the IBM market. Major migrations of in-house software are shrinking in number for MPE's customer base. The depth of analysis needed for such projects is even greater than the prerequisite inventory and ID prior to application replacements. By MB Foster's reckoning, four of every five transitions today are reaching for replacement apps.

Assessments are in this year's news from Fresche. In the late spring the vendor announced IBM i assessments for a large auto manufacturer, a US pharmacy services company, and a large IT services company in Europe. Fresche now has Discover Services that utilize "a unique utility that was purpose-built for analyzing legacy environments." The software utility uncovers "critical application environment details including both active and unused components. This facilitates cost savings, since applications or code that clients no longer use won’t factor into the planning or transitioning costs."

Fresche's VP of Legacy R&D Garry Ciambella says that Databorough’s X-Analysis solution complements and extends the Fresche Legacy product portfolio. Customers of X-Analysis gain access to the array of Fresche modernization solutions. Fresche is also expanding North American opportunity for Databorough.

This strategy mirrors that AMXW product acquisition in its geographic scope. Neartek was a firm based in France with many European customers for AMXW in 2002. Post-acquisition, Speedware extended the software's capabilities with several new releases. Companies who were migrating their code could benefit from this acquired software. Broader support is a part of both stories, too.

"Fresche Legacy directly extends our North American market reach," said Databorough's CEO Mark Tregear, "and [Fresche's] SCP-certified, 24X7 support centre provides our customers with global support coverage --which offers up an entirely new level of assurance and confidence for our products."