Web-based Document Management Gets the RJS Treatment
September 27, 2005 Dan Burger
Companies are interested in Web-based access to documents, reports, and files for one reason–it’s the quickest way to distribute critical business data. The spotlight is on productivity, but the side benefits of decreasing paper, postage, and storage costs are not unobserved either. As Richard Schoen, president of RJS Software Systems, points out, these storage and management advantages apply internally, where employees capitalize on easier and quicker location and distribution of documents, and externally, where customers and suppliers gain accessibility.
RJS Software has been rolling out document and image management products for OS/400 shops since 1997. Its product line is somewhat unique because it runs native on the IBM iSeries, but it also has developed companion products that run on Windows and more recently has developed cross-platform products. At the Fall 2005 COMMON Conference last week in Orlando, Florida, Schoen talked about new products, new partnerships, the appeal of document and image management solutions, and the strategy his company is taking to win new customers.
One of the RJS announcements is a Web interface for its WebDocs software. WebDocs allows paper documents (faxes and reports, for instance) to be scanned and electronically stored, managed, and distributed. It provides the same features for emails, images, and even audio and video files. The company refers to the just-released interface as WebDocs Open Web. It is an important stepping-stone in the company’s ongoing cross-platform development process.
“Companies want to put stuff out on Web for document access by customers and vendors, but they don’t necessarily want to put the iSeries out on the Internet,” Schoen says. The Open Web product is specifically designed to run on a separate Web server, which allows the iSeries to be protected behind a corporate firewall.
“Instead of going to customers and customizing their programs, which is what RJS ran into early on, we developed an open source interface using Java and JSP Web pages,” he says. “It allows customers to create their own Web sites with document access to the iSeries.” “With a cross-platform approach, the organization can choose from a mix of server software, including Apache, Linux, and Windows
“This is part of our first phase of going totally cross-platform with our WebDocs software,” Schoen says. “It is designed to extend iSeries to the Web. It is also an important step toward building an entirely cross-platform version of WebDocs. All of our Web-based products introduced in the next few years will be cross-platform.”
WebDocs Open Web is expected to be ready for shipment in two to three weeks. It will be included in the basic WebDocs package. No pricing details are available at this time.
Part of the RJS strategy for future growth involves greater emphasis on specific niche industries. For example, Schoen pointed to a partnership with Mize, Houser & Company, a CPA firm that is incorporating WebDocs into its accounting package. Mize, Houser & Company specializes in hosting its CPA applications on iSeries boxes and has been in this business for 20 years.
“They work with some of the top CPA firms that run on iSeries,” Schoen says. “RJS will maintain the software and build the software integration into the CPA product.”
RJS will also market the product as WebDocs-CPA. It is available at this time. However, pricing was not disclosed.
According to Schoen, RJS will have more partnerships like this in the future. His goal for RJS is to build channels in different industries by developing workflow and document management software that is industry specific. Higher education and manufacturing are two vertical niches that Schoen has in mind.
RJS has always been deeply entrenched in the OS/400 world, but it has also created many Windows-based programs that have been sold into iSeries shops where Windows developers also reside. One of those older products,DDA/400, was designed for building Windows-based programs with OS/400 data. Recently RJS has re-engineered DDA/400, combining it with another product called ASP/400, to create a new product called iSeries Data Access Provider.
Schoen says the product was developed based on customer requests for software that allows access to live iSeries data. It is designed for Microsoft Windows developers that need record-level access to iSeries data such as program calls, remote commands, and SQL calls or queries.
The iSeries Data Access Provider is priced at $4,999. For more information, visit www.rjssoftware.com.