SEA and RevSoft End Partnership for OS/400 Utilities
October 18, 2005 Alex Woodie
Software Engineering of America is developing its own OS/400 systems management tools following a falling-out with its former development partner, RevSoft. SEA, which has been developing and selling mainframe tools for over 20 years, partnered with the established Australian firm for OS/400 tools in 2004, but disagreements between the two companies led to a mutual decision to call it quits, officials with the companies say.
It’s been barely a year since SEA began actively selling and marketing the REV Suite, a collection of nine utilities providing various management and automation functions for iSeries servers, including REV View, REV Backup, REV Message, REV Schedule, REV Dataflow, REV ZIP, REV Disk, REV Scope, and REV Guardian. SEA made a big splash at the Fall 2004 COMMON Conference in Toronto, Ontario, where it unveiled its new products to the public and the press (see “U.S.A. Gets New OS/400 Systems Management Suite from SEA”).
The Franklin Square, New York, company could not have foreseen last fall what was about to transpire. That much was evident by SEA’s big showing last month at the Fall 2005 COMMON Conference in Orlando, Florida, where SEA spent tens of thousands of dollars for a large booth near the front of the Expo floor and to have its name prominently placed on the ID badges worn by all attendees. Such is the case when marketing decisions are made months in advance, and business relationships deteriorate in the meantime.
According to Anthony Blye, technical support manager for SEA, the decision to end the relationship was shared by both companies. Problems started to surface for SEA when customers began testing SEA’s new products. Blye says customers were finding “too many holes” in the software package from RevSoft, and providing “too much negative feedback” during early trials.
SEA wanted certain changes made to address the shortcomings in the products, but RevSoft would not give up control of product development, according to Blye. A compromise could not be reached, and the companies decided to end their short partnership. “It was a mutual decision,” Blye says.
Blye says SEA didn’t foresee the potential problems before entering into the partnership, and only realized the situation it was in after the initial trials. “We were extremely busy for a year,” he says. “We were committed from the get go.” The company had more than 10 customers using or testing the REV Suite tools, he says.
John Massey, founder and software engineer at RevSoft, says he had high hopes for the relationship, but insurmountable problems developed. “We didn’t do enough homework going into it,” he says. “A lot of it was my fault. I read it [the partnership agreement] too hastily. I was excited. A reasonably large American company” was going to sell REV Suite. “We had a lot of enthusiasm and no game plan.”
Massey says RevSoft and SEA had a difference of opinion over the labeling of the products. According to Massey, the REV Suite was going to be labeled as an SEA product, with no recognition given to RevSoft. “When we do that, it tends to dampen enthusiasm on this side of the fence.” Despite the valuable American marketing presence SEA could provide to the RevSoft products, the labeling issue was a deal breaker for RevSoft, Massey says.
Aside from a minor quality problem stemming from a developer failing to accomplish his task while Massey was on a business trip to New York to meet with SEA last year, all of SEA’s new OS/400 customers were very satisfied with REV Suite, Massey says. “It was very amicable,” he says of the break-up. “I think we both learned a heck of a lot from it. They’re a very good marketing machine. They proved that.”
Both Companies Moving On
Despite the setback, SEA still has plans to be an OS/400 tools vendor. “We learned a lot from this relationship and we’re going to incorporate that into our development philosophy,” Blye says. “We’re developing our own products” from scratch using RPG and C.
Blye says the company is considering a range of different tools, but hasn’t entirely cemented development plans. The only products SEA is firmly committed to developing are a messaging and monitoring tool, and an OS/400 job scheduling tool. Blye says the messaging and monitoring tool should be ready by next spring.
SEA sees a lot of potential in the market for OS/400 systems management tools. “We feel like it’s a fertile market, a professional market,” Blye says. “The people we dealt with in the iSeries market are wonderful . . . and have a sense of professionalism” similar to people who work on mainframes for a living, he says. SEA designed and sold mainframe tools prior to coming into the iSeries market.
As part of the separation, SEA will continue to sell REV Suite until January 1. The contracts signed by a dozen or so SEA customers will be honored by the company.
RevSoft still has designs on tackling the North American market for iSeries systems management tools. The company, which is an advanced IBM business partner based in the Australian Gold Coast city of Nerang, is incorporated in the state of Florida, and plans to ramp-up that office when the split is made final next quarter. “We’re going to take our time and make sure we do it right,” Massey says.
While RevSoft’s strength is in OS/400 and developing systems management tools for IBM’s midrange line, the company is rolling out a new suite of cross-platform job scheduling tools based on the REV Suite. Massey looks forward to bringing this expanded suite (which will manage jobs on every major platform except for the mainframe) to the North American market, which he views as ripe for a product like this.