'Legacy' Integration Blossoms During Recession, Seagull Says
Published: March 16, 2010
by Alex Woodie
While the recession has hammered overall IT spending during the last 18 months, some sectors of the industry are doing quite well. Rocket Software and its Seagull Software subsidiary, for instance, say they are experiencing a surge in demand for integration and modernization tools, as System i and mainframe users seek to eek more life out of their "legacy" applications as a result of the recession. Seagull hopes a new release of its LegaSuite Integration software unveiled last week will help it to capitalize on the trend.
People and businesses around the world are still recovering from the historic crash of the financial markets in the fall of 2008. While the stock market recovered about half of its losses during 2009, trillions of dollars in wealth are still basically vaporized. After being burned with huge losses and debt from the Great Recession, people responded last year by dramatically lowering their spending, which pundits have taken to calling "the new normal."
The newfound thriftiness has permeated U.S. society and altered spending patterns in many profound ways. Instead of buying new cars, people fix their old cars. Instead of buying new houses, people upgrade their existing houses. Instead of eating out in restaurants, people stay home and eat.
And instead of buying fancy new servers and whiz-bang applications, people are sprucing up their old servers and applications.
And that is good news for Seagull, which makes its living selling software for modernizing i/OS and z/OS applications with graphical interfaces and service oriented architecture (SOA) integration points, according to Sam Elias, Rocket's worldwide executive for Seagull products.
"2009, I don't think anybody argues, has been the worst financial year in last 100 years," Elias says in a recent interview with IT Jungle. "And if you look at our performance, it's one of the best years we've ever had. Without a doubt, the reason is we provide quick pragmatic solutions so people can take advantage and do more things with what they already have, versus trying to go and build something from scratch or buy that new application."
The recession has caused customers to stay on existing z/OS, i/OS, Unix, and OpenVMS applications and trying to do more with them, Elias says. "We hear from prospects all day long, 'We decided to put a hold the next ERP system implementation, so now we're going to do more with what we already have.' That's the reality now."
Last week the company unveiled LegaSuite Integration version 5.2, the first new release of the product in several years (at least the first release that Seagull has publicly announced). Version 5.2 brings several new features that Seagull says will benefit customers.
For starters, a new macroflow modeler will make it easier for users to visualize and plan how business processes will execute across various platforms once a customer has Web service-enabled the application using LegaSuite. People don't need Java development expertise to be able to orchestrate business processes through Web services. Instead, business analysts will be able to accomplish this by dragging and dropping icons on a screen.
The key advantage to the macroflow modeler is re-usability, Elias says. "You have the capability now to use existing Web services within different contexts, if you like, and orchestrate them to deliver different results," he says.
Seagull also gave customers the capability to model access to database transactions through a drag and drop interface with LegaSuite Integration 5.2. This is another big enhancement, says Charles Jones, a product manager for Seagull. "One of the key challenges we met with this release is being able to orchestrate all these Web services across the same or different platforms, in a transactional capacity as well," he says.
Rounding out the three big new features is support for the latest release of CICS, version 4.1. With these capabilities in place, users have the capability to develop Web service-based integration points into application and database processes from a single workbench, Seagull says.
LegaSuite Integration (formerly Transdiom), like LegaSuite GUI (formerly JWalk and WinJa), runs as a plug-in to the Eclipse IDEs from IBM and the IDEs from other development tool makers. Customers can generate or consume all sorts of Web services using the software, including Web services written in Java or .NET, or handled through XML-based documents and XSL. LegaSuite server components can reside on any server that supports a JVM.
While LegaSuite Integration is gaining steam ("SOA has become mainstream, no ifs about it," Elias says), LegaSuite GUI still accounts for the bulk of Seagull's business with legacy application modernization. And among LeagaSuite GUI customers, the ISVs that develop big application suites--vendors like Oracle (for JD Edwards), Jack Henry & Associates, Fiserv, and Fidelity Information Systems (FIS)--account for the bulk of the deals.
"On the iSeries, our ISVs are very, very active," Elias says. "They're getting a lot more business requirements from their customers, they're coming back to us, and we're providing enhancements by revamping the user interface and by incorporating Web services within the existing platform."
While Seagull has kept a relatively low profile since its acquisition by Rocket Software more than three years ago, that doesn't mean the company's business has been sliding. In fact, Elias claims Seagull's maintenance renewal rate for LegaSuite products is in the mid 90 percent range.
In other words, any reports of Seagull's demise have been greatly exaggerated, especially in lieu of the Great Recession, which Seagull sees as a Great Opportunity.
"What established Seagull many years ago as a strong player--in my opinion the strongest player--in providing solutions within the existing iSeries applications, is continuing strong in terms of both enhancing those applications, and continually using those applications in production," Elias says. "And the proof in the pudding is people continue paying maintenance, which is not insignificant."
LegaSuite Integration version 5.2 is available now. Licenses are based on a variety of factors, and full implementations often range from about $100,000 into the millions of dollars. For more information, see www.seagullsw.com.
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