Volume 8, Number 19 -- May 13, 2008

MKS Updates Change Management for i OS, Warns of Big Revenue Jump

Published: May 13, 2008

by Alex Woodie

MKS this month released a new version of its change management solution for the IBM i OS, Implementer 2008. Making the software easier for developers to use was the main focus of this release, which brought more than 200 changes, including support for IBM's latest i OS development tools, and the elimination of system state programs. The company also warned investors that its revenues jumped more than 66 percent in its most recent quarter, largely the result of one big deal.

MKS develops application lifecycle management (ALM) tools that automate the management of development and configuration of tasks that programmers, operators, help desk technicians, and others perform on a daily basis. The company's flagship product, MKS Integrity, provides the core workflow and process orchestration that unites IT workers, their supervisors, and top-level management, as well as providing change management capabilities for distributed platforms. For i OS (formerly i5/OS and OS/400, the company sells a change management tool called Implementer that's designed to work alongside Integrity to provide multi-platform shops a unified management platform for all of their code.

One of the key new developments in Implementer 2008 is support for Rational Developer for System i (RDi) 7.1, IBM's new strategic development platform for i OS-based Power Systems servers (formerly System i, i5, iSeries, and AS/400). RDi is based on Eclipse, just as the old WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc) for System i was (and still is). But with support for WDSc expected to end two years from now, most System i developers are expected to move to the new RDi platform, and MKS is assisting in that transition by introducing support for RDi. For those staying on WDSc for a while, they'll be happy to hear that MKS also introduced support for WDSC 7.0 with Implementer 2008.

MKS also introduced a new plug-in for Remote System Explorer (RSE) in Implementer 2008. This plug-in enables developers to accomplish a variety of tasks, including reviewing work assignments, checking in and out, editing code, compiling, releasing code to deployment, and updating project information (such as status and time entry), all without leaving the comfort of the RSE environment.

Implementer 2008 also has something for those die-hard green-screeners who avoid the GUI as if it were the plague, and choose instead to interact with the change management system from the host-based Developer Workbench environment. With this release, MKS says it has simplified work by introducing a feature called Named User Filters, which eliminate the need for repetitious entry of common search criteria, allowing developers to see only what they need.

Database promotions should run faster now, thereby reducing downtime during updates, thanks to use of dynamic ALTER TABLE technology for SQL and the CHGPF command for DDS, the company says. The latest release also features better integration and support for several third-party applications, including Maximum Availability's *noMax, Oracle's JD Edwards World 8.1 and 9.1, CA's 2E 8.1 SP2, LANSA's Visual LANSA, IBM's Lotus Domino, and Hawkeye Information Systems' Pathfinder.

In terms of security, SSL encryption can now be used to distribute i application updates via FTP. This is particularly useful for companies struggling with PCI compliance, MKS says. This feature is available through MKS Integrity.

Implementer 2008 also brings changes to the interaction between itself and i (no, not me, but i5/OS). Previous versions of Implementer contained programs that were implemented as system state programs within the operating system. This was a concern, because system state programs can open the application and the underlying server they're running on to a variety of problems, including crashes, changed objects, the bypassing of authority checking and auditing.

MKS Product Manager Marty Acks says the main focus of Implementer 2008 was increasing developer productivity. "Our main objective was to let the developer work within WDSc/RDi in the most natural way possible," he says. "Those who have previewed this release have specifically cited the strong emphasis on working within RSE in WDSc/RDi as a major convenience, and the ability to do so without requiring the use of other clients, host-based interfaces, or third-party products to perform their day-to-day activities as distinguishing our integration from other offerings in the market."

MKS, which is based in Waterloo, Ontario, also reported its preliminary fourth quarter fiscal 2008 financial results last week. While the company doesn't officially announce its results until June, company executives felt the need to disclose the abnormal results for the quarter ended April 30.

MKS said it expects fourth quarter revenue of about $21 million, a huge boost compared to revenue of $12.6 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007. Its ALM licensing revenue will be about $11 million, which is an increase of about 175 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago.

The unexpected increase was the result of a $5 million deal MKS signed in March with a European automotive customer, according to MKS CEO and chairman Philip Deck. "This unusually high level of quarterly license revenue along with solid results in maintenance and services will produce record revenue and pretax profits for the fourth quarter," he said.

MKS' stock, which is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol MKX, has almost doubled in value from mid January, when it was trading for $1.03, to Friday's close at $1.95, a new 52-week high.

Implementer 2008 is available now. The software supports i 6.1, in addition to earlier releases. MKS has two Webinars scheduled for Implementer 2008, including "What’s New in Implementer 2008" on May 14 and "Simplifying the Developer Experience in IBM WDSC and IBM RDi" on May 28. Both Webinars start at 2 p.m. EDT. For more information or to register for the Webinars, visit www.mks.com.


Q&A with MKS CEO Philip Deck: Automating the Automaters

MKS Swings to a Profit on Revenue Growth in Fiscal 2008 Second Quarter

MKS Updates ALM Tools for iSeries, Distributed Systems

MKS Refreshes Change Management Suite, Adds 'Dashboard' View

MKS Integrates Workflow Application with WDSc

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