ASNA, ISS Launch Midrange Migration Center
February 6, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Sometime in the next week or so, iSeries application porting specialist ASNA, which in recent years has pursued a tight partnership with Microsoft and which is aggressively peddling its Monarch Migration Suite to move RPG applications to .NET and DB2/400 databases to SQL Server, announced a partnership with Italian services provider International Software Solutions, one of its partners in Europe, to create the Midrange Migration Center.
The two companies believe that small independent software vendors that have created applications in RPG are worried about the fate of RPG and its related iSeries platform and are similarly looking at a way to expand into other markets. And the Midrange Migration Center aims to help them do the porting.
“Many of the smaller ISVs in Italy find themselves without a clear direction regarding the future of their current applications,” explained Francesco Dugar, president of ISS, in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Over the years, they have invested heavily in their products, marketing programs, and development teams and would like to reuse as much of these assets as possible. Java is not an option for these companies because of the high cost and very steep learning curve for their development teams. Moving these mature, and in many cases market-leading applications, to .NET allows the ISV to pursue the fastest growing and highest revenue producing market. MMC will offer the ISVs a clear alternative to Java while protecting and extending their RPG development skills and the applications.”
This is probably only the first of what will be many such migration centers from ASNA as well as other software tool providers who have joined Microsoft’s Midrange Alliance Program, which seeks to raid the OS/400 application base and convert as much of it as possible to .NET.
As you might imagine, this is causing an upheaval in the iSeries ISV community. But as long as RPG is not a graphical environment and .NET is a no-brainer choice, this kind of migration effort will get traction. There’s always hope that IBM will wake up, but how many ISVs does the iSeries need to lose before IBM does something substantial to not only help ISVs compete with Microsoft’s solutions, platforms, and partners, but to resist the temptation to move to .NET? These small ISVs that ASNA and ISS are chasing want RPG that looks and smells like .NET, but they don’t actually want .NET and they certainly don’t want Java. They’ll take .NET and special tools to convert RPG to .NET because it is the least disruptive thing for them to do. IBM could fix this, but it would require some big changes, such as no longer charging a premium for 5250 capacity and embedding real graphical function into the guts of RPG.