Cybermation tries to turn cross-platform to gold

In an effort to save costs, or keep up with the Joneses, many companies will bring on board new software solutions. This will theoretically lead to integration with other tools, training and ensuring solutions can be spread across platforms.

Markham, Ont.-based Cybermation has expanded its content management offering to include ESP Alchemist, a Java-based solution that the company says will integrate content on a cross-platform basis.

Bob Kennedy, ESP Alchemist product manager, said any company that uses computers to do its business has been concerned since day one with reliability of its applications.

“Essentially this market – software change management – is a market that deals with solutions which help people manage that availability,” Kennedy said, adding in the past there have been many point solutions used to address developers, the deployment of applications or more effective development.

“This is a solution that encompasses all those business processes and all those platforms – whether it be OS/390 on the mainframe, any flavour of Windows and almost any flavour of Unix you can think of, along with Linux for the 390, AS/400.”

Ray Nissan, chairman and chief technology architect for Cybermation, said Alchemist is a single-point solution with many platforms and business processes involved. “It brings together the software development side with the operations side,” Nissan said.

Kennedy said Cybermation’s customers were spreading their applications in order to take advantage of multiple platforms.

“Whereas in years gone by, our customers would be building all their solutions on a mainframe, what has happened recently is that they are now taking those applications and deploying parts and pieces on other platforms,” he said.

“So, they’re building applications with parts on multiple platforms. They told us this was a co-ordination nightmare. They needed to be able to make a change to a database on a mainframe and change the user interface on a Windows machine and they needed to do all that at the same time,” Kennedy said.

Alchemist provides the version control, source code control and archiving and component cross-referencing information that is needed for effective troubleshooting and risk management, he said.

“Alchemist helps manage what the developers are doing, which is a problem for a big company with a lot of developers. It looks after check in/check out processes. It provides really powerful analysis facilities,” Kennedy said.

“One of the big issues of software development is if you change one part of the application, how will it impact the rest of the computing environment. Another facet is providing audit trails – if something goes wrong with software you want to know what happened and who made the last changes.”

Jim Duggan, vice-president, research director in the application development area for Gartner Group in Raleigh, N.C., said Cybermation has a unique approach.

He said if ESP Alchemist is clean and light enough, the company will find customers in those who are storing data wherever.

“Ultimately, I think Cybermation is playing to writing in Java, which will allow people to write to any platform,” Duggan said. He added that overall it has a nice idea – in terms of cost and administrative overhead, it has advantages.

“The big question marks are, can Cybermation build a big enough sales force and get their name out there enough to be seen as a legitimate supplier?”

Duggan said they have the technology talent and Alchemist is solving problems of cross-platform developing and content management – and doing so elegantly.

“I’ve heard good feedback. It’s nice stuff, they’re talented and they’re small, which is different in the mainframe space – but nice. I’m encouraged. They just have to work on getting out there.”