ALTech Taps ASNA to Migrate Food App from RPG to .NET
May 6, 2008 Alex Woodie
ALTech Software, a developer of software that helps food manufacturers create new products while complying with industry regulations, has successfully migrated its RPG-based Vision NPD software to the Microsoft .NET language, enabling the software to run on standard Windows Servers as opposed to expensive IBM i-based Power Systems servers (formerly System i). ASNA provided ALTech with software and expertise enabling the migration.
From its headquarters in Hawthorn, England, (about 80 miles west of London) ALTech develops a product called Vision NPD (New Product Development). As you may have gathered, food makers use Vision NPD to automate many of the steps needed to roll out delicious and nutritious food products, including recipe design, raw materials specification, job costing and yield, and nutritional labeling. Along the way, Vision NPD keeps the data safe and centralized, ensuring the manufacturer stays within the bounds of various applicable industry regulations.
While i OS (formerly i5/OS and OS/400) has undeniably provided a robust platform for Vision NPD, ALTech was forced to recognize that its new prospects had little to no experience with the operating system. As a result, ALTech decided to target the world’s most popular server platform, the Windows Server operating system.
“It is probable that System i applications, with their existing user interface, will become increasingly obsolete,” says Alan Blyther, commercial director of ALTech. “They are already becoming more difficult to support and develop and fewer professionals have the requisite skills.”
ALTech had several ways to get several hundred thousand lines of RPG into .NET, Microsoft’s favored language for Windows Server runtime Windows Server. It could rewrite its existing code from scratch, or it could convert as much of the existing RPG code as possible. In the end, ALTech chose the migration route, which promises a quicker turnaround and a greater return on investment than rewriting from scratch.
ALTech eventually settled on Monarch, a collection of RPG-to-.NET migration tools developed by ASNA, which is now owned by BluePhoenix, to accomplish the conversion. ASNA officials claim Monarch, which was launched in 2004, automatically converts 80 to 95 percent of RPG code to .NET. The remaining pieces must be manually converted or rewritten to .NET.
According to Blyther, Monarch enabled ALTech to convert the Vision NPD suite to .NET in one-third of the time and at one-quarter of the cost that it would have taken to rewrite the application from scratch.
In addition to converting the RPG logic to .NET, Monarch enabled ALTech to adopt the SQL Server database in place of DB2/400. However, if the customer still wants to use DB2/400 with the new .NET code, ALTech will allow them to keep DB2/400, the company says.