Getting Chromed, and Bad Calls
Managers still linking with 3000 data tools

How far out can migration assistance lead?

Companies that use Ecometry's ecommerce package have been in transition a long time. Once HP announced in 2001 that the 3000's future was limited at the vendor, Ecometry's campaign to migrate got more intense and focused. After several acquisitions of this software and more than a decade, its customers are still facing some migrations.

GeeseBut some of the customers are looking at a migration beyond just an alternative platform for running Ecometry's successor, JDA Direct Commerce. When IT operations make a transition like this, one kind of destination can be moving to a different vendor's application. Any existing app vendor would be of little help in this kind of move. Then again, the replacement app's vendor might not know enough about a 3000 Ecometry version, or even the Windows Ecometry version that many 3000 sites have embraced.

This kind of migration is one of several that alliance partners assist with. These partners are companies that have experience with implementing and customizing the IT around the application. Sometimes, as in the case of Ability Commerce, they have an alternative ecommerce app like SmartSite and still operate as a partner with Ecometry's latest owners, JDA. A partner brings deeper experience. When there's data to be moved, a company wants to be sure they've got all of it, ready for the new app, safely transformed from its prior incarnation in whatever version of Ecometry it is still running.

AC User SummitSuch IT operations sometimes look for help from a place like MB Foster, which is why the company became a partner with Ability late last year. Ability is hosting its own Ability Commerce User Summit in a month in Delray Beach, Florida. That's the town that used to be the HQ for the old Ecometry. Birket Foster's company will be a sponsor at the Summit. He said his company's work is '"for the standard migration to Ecometry on Windows, or if the customer has a choice of deciding they'll go to something else," he said. "We'd also be able to provide assistance with moving to the Ability Order Management System, for example."

Services companies like Foster's can act like independent insurance agents, or unfettered consulting shops. They'll enable a move off of MPE/iX applications. And sometimes that move can be all way off the existing vendor's alternative apps, and onto another vendor's package. Or in this case, customers can tap a partnership to embrace allied software that will help in a migration.

There's still some isolation for Ecometry sites to endure in this year's JDA lineup. Ability's reads the pulse of Ecometry sites well. But moving all the way off Ecometry is just one option.

Foster said many of the forthcoming migrations off 3000-based Ecometry will go to the Ecometry version for Windows, "because a customer might say that retraining their 400 people in a call center will cost a lot of money." That retraining would be necessary if a site migrated all the way off the existing package. "If the current version of Ecometry is doing the job for you," Foster said, "why would you move? And if you're not moving, you may as well be on the Windows version -- it's not much different to the users than the other version. Your people are familiar with it, and it just gets a fancier interface."

But a consultant working directly for Ecometry -- okay, it's JDA-Red Prairie by now, but under the covers it's still what's left of Ecometry's expertise -- won't be able to carry a migrator beyond JDA's software lineup. At last count JDA had more than 100 software apps in its stable. Some of them might be prospects for a migration away from Ecometry, but probably won't be a fit aimed at ecommerce's needs in specific.

Ability Commerce's SmartSite is aimed directly at the ecommerce operation, rather than a meld of point of sale retail and web sales, better suited for the 200,000 item per day retailers. Many of the large Ecometry sites have catalog sales, plus Web -- but no brick and mortar. The JDA Direct Commerce suite is overkill for some -- especially those who are still making do with their 3000 versions of Ecometry.

In simpler terms, using a replacement app can be a better fit if it doesn't come from an acquiring vendor who's ballooned the scope of the app -- and doesn't have enough focus to feel like the old Ecometry. That flavor of Ecometry, of course, disappeared into its merger with GERS Retail in 2006 to become Escalate Retail. It's been a long time since Ecometry was just focused on web sales and logistics. If you only sell over the Web, where's the good in getting a package with point of sale features?

At some point in any services relationship, an IT manager wants to ask, "What do you recommend?" or perhaps, "We think this might be a better target for our migration. Can you help us get there?" They seek out a migration services company with an independent perspective, matched with explicit knowledge of a current app, platform, and data structures.