News Briefs and Product Shorts
New 5250-to-GUI functionality was unveiled late last week by Affirmative Computer Products. The Tempe, Arizona, company
announced it has added an "advanced view" feature to its YESterm 5250 emulation program, which
automatically converts an AS/400 or iSeries green screen into a graphical interface with the press of a
button. The software automatically converts menu items, function keys, and subfile options into graphical
buttons that can be activated with a mouse or used with a touch-screen monitor (which Affirmative also
sells). The software converts input fields into recessed panels with peach or white backgrounds, features
scroll control using the number pad on typical PC keyboards, and also allows users to create their own
custom buttons. YESterm 5250 is available for trial download, runs on Windows PCs, and is included with
Affirmative's Windows- or Linux-based thin clients for S/36s and OS/400 systems.
American International Technology Enterprises last
week announced a new Web-enabled release of its property and casualty insurance application for OS/400.
WINS Digital is based on AITE's stable and popular WINS design, which has been in use by P&C insurers
for more than 20 years. The new design uses Java and XML technologies and was designed specifically to
run on iSeries servers equipped with WebSphere. The application is capable of processing over 35 lines of
business, AITE says, and supports policy and premium management; claims and reinsurance processing;
and management information and regulatory reporting.
J.D. Edwards has a new chairman of the board. Last
week the Denver ERP vendor announced that its board of directors had named Robert M. Dutkowsky as the
chairman of the board. In January Dutkowsky took over the president and chief executive officer positions
from J.D. Edwards cofounder Edward McVaney. It was expected that Dutkowsky would also be named the
company's chairman, but the official coronation was held back until March 26, the day of the company's
annual shareholders' meeting. Dutkowsky becomes the second chairman in the company's 25-year history.
Is your company considering an ERP upgrade but hesitating to take action because of the headaches
and the high cost? Your company is not alone. A recent survey conducted by the Boston analyst group AMR Research showed that, at $1.5 million, the
average ERP upgrade for a large company requires a hefty commitment from management to succeed.
AMR Research unveiled the first half of its results of a study of 150 companies, with revenues of more than
$1 billion in various industries, upgrading their J.D. Edwards, SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Baan ERP systems. According to the study, the costs associated with an
ERP upgrade broke down along the following lines: 42 percent for personnel, 31 percent for hardware, and
25 percent for software. Data conversion and migration was the most difficult phase for 28 percent of the
companies, while 29 percent reported the most difficulty with testing.
IBM has committed to bringing its WebSphere Translation
Server to the iSeries. And when it finally
does follow through on its word, support for the Chinese and Japanese languages will be available and
waiting. Last week Big Blue announced the availability of WebSphere Translation Server 2.0, which, in
addition to supporting Chinese-to-English and Japanese-to-English translation, features "linguistic
improvements" to existing languages. The software apparently already supported English-to-Chinese
translation and, with this announcement, becomes the only commercially available translator to support
bidirectional translation for English and Chinese, IBM claims. Version 2 also supports English-to-Brazilian
Portuguese translation, bringing the total number of languages supported by the software to 16. WebSphere
Translation Server 2.0 runs on Windows, AIX, Solaris, and Linux operating systems; pricing begins at
$15,000 per processor.
Is your company prepared for disaster? According to Gartner, only 35 percent of small and midsize businesses have a
comprehensive disaster-recovery plan in place, and fewer than 10 percent have crisis-management,
contingency, business-recovery, and business-resumption plans ready to be activated. Moreover, two out of
five small and midsize businesses that experience a disaster will go out of business within five years, the
Group predicted. And the term "disaster" could be a little deceiving in the wake of what happened on
September 11: The reality is that it's the hundreds of comparatively minor vulnerabilities, such as an e-mail
virus or a sustained power outage, that causes the greatest downtime, the Group said. Eighty percent of
application downtime is directly caused by people or processes failures, while the remainder is caused by
what people commonly associate with disasters such as technology failures or environmental incidents.
It was almost business as usual for the PR department at DataMirror last week, following the clamor the
previous week concerning the company's March 18 announcement of a hostile take-over bid of its
competitor in the OS/400 high-availability market, Vision Solutions. The company issued three press
releases on Monday, March 25, one of which was a minor clarification of the timing of DataMirror's initial
contact with Vision's management about the hostile take-over bid. The other two press releases announced
new deals with customers, both of which, incidentally, involved software from SAP. The first
announcement concerned a new deal with VEKA AG, a large German manufacturer and distributor of
plastic window profiles, to protect its iSeries-based SAP system against downtime by using DataMirror's
High Availability Suite. The second announcement concerned a $1.2 million (assumed to be Canadian
dollars) deal with Bell Canada to use DataMirror's Pervasive Gateway to extend information residing in the
company's SAP system to mobile devices.
For those intrepid readers who contacted us about last week's story on Maximum Availability's new release of high
availability software: No, the company is not still in beta tests, despite the fact that it recently issued the
V0R1M5 release of its *noMAX high availability software. The confusion might relate to the numbering
scheme that Maximum Availability uses for new iterations of its software. According to a company official,
the latest rev of *noMAX is more like a version five than a version zero. Apparently the company, which
calls Auckland, New Zealand, home, issues new "modifications" in the same way that North American
software companies issue new "versions" of software. Without this insight, we may be been addled by
continual befuddlement over the company's version-release-modification methodology. And, yes, we are
aware that the Kiwis still do drive on the left--err, wrong--side of the road, but are powerless to stop it.
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