Vertical Sky airs e-business package

Vertical Sky, a new subsidiary of Waterloo, Ont.-based software firm Mortice Kern Systems Inc. (MKS), last month introduced a software package designed to help companies build e-business Web sites and upgrade them as needed.

Vertical Sky, which offers a combination of consulting services and software, introduced Vertical Sky Evolution Management, a Web site development and management package based on BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic Application Server. The package also includes workflow, content management, version control and deployment management tools, according to Bill Skowera, vice-president of technology.

The technologies and software development methodologies Vertical Sky is pitching have their roots in the technologies that MKS has sold for years, mainly tools that help software developers upgrade applications over time in a coordinated fashion. However, Vertical Sky has upgraded those existing point products to be of particular use to traditional companies and dot.coms working on e-business sites, Skowera said. For example, the upgraded tools work better with Web interfaces and take into consideration Web content versioning so that if a company needs to show an auditor that certain content existed at a certain time, it can do so.

Skowera noted that Vertical Sky also has integrated what were previously point products under MKS. In addition, those products can now take advantage of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and other technologies supported in the BEA apps server.

Pricing for the Vertical Sky package varies from installation to installation.

Vertical Sky is mainly going after customers that are moving beyond using the Web just as a new way to present content. The company is targeting those companies looking to build more transaction-oriented Web systems.

“We’re targeting senior executives with P&L responsibilities or in charge of business strategies to drive new on-line operations,” said Randall Howard, who founded MKS back in 1984 and is now CEO of Vertical Sky.

MKS is treating Vertical Sky like a start-up and has provided it with initial funding. Howard, who describes Vertical Sky as a “pre-IPO company,” said the subsidiary will take funding from outside strategic investors and venture capital firms. Vertical Sky generated about US$4 million in first quarter revenue, Howard says.

Parent company MKS, which lost more than US$3 million during the company’s 1999 fiscal year, has been on a financial upswing of late, posting improved revenue and earnings for its fiscal year 2000 ending in April. However, the company’s announcement of Vertical Sky in July failed to boost MKS’s stock, which is wallowing well below US$10 a share.