Dutch Vendor Targets American ALM Market with SoCal Partner
June 28, 2011 Alex Woodie
North American IBM i shops looking for an application lifecycle management (ALM) tool have another option following Solutions First LLC‘s announcement that it is distributing Dutch vendor Remain Software‘s TD/OMS in the United States and Canada. The principals at the Southern California company say TD/OMS has a feature that sets it apart from the pack: exceptional integration with 4GLs, including support for IBM‘s EGL. A platform-independent version of TD/OMS is also in the works.
It’s been a tumultuous market lately for the vendors and buyers of IBM i-based ALM tools. After experiencing tremendous growth in the early 2000s as a result of greater regulation, the three big North American change management vendors–Aldon, MKS, and SoftLanding–have found themselves acquired. Aldon has been sold twice–first to Marlin Equity Partners and then to Rocket Software earlier this year. Parametric Technology just completed its acquisition of MKS, and there is still lingering bitterness over Unicom Systems‘ handling of the SoftLanding acquisition.
This shakeup has opened the doors for a group of European change management vendors to try to take share in the lucrative U.S. market. The first was French software company Arcad Software, which set up shop in SoftLanding’s old New Hampshire stomping grounds. Last year, the Swiss company Midrange Dynamics appeared on the American scene through its U.S. distribution partner, Synergivity. This year, it’s the Dutch vendor Remain Software looking for a slice of American pie, through its new partner, Solutions First.
Based in Laguna Hills, California, Solutions First has provided IT consulting services since it was founded in 1989 by networking guru Bill Milman. The economic disruption of the last three years led Milman and his partner, change management expert Joan McKittrick, to explore new businesses. When the opportunity came along to build a North American distribution channel for Remain Software’s TD/OMS, it looked like a case of the right product at the right time.
According to McKittrick, a former trainer for SoftLanding’s TurnOver product, the change management industry has stagnated for several years. “There’s a significant amount of pent up demand at the moment because businesses have changed processes, and what they had before no longer fits, or it’s not what they want to go forward with,” McKittrick tells IT Jungle. “So they’re looking for an opportunity to put something in that’s more in-line with their business requirement.”
McKittrick says several things impress her about TD/OMS and Remain Software. While all change management products offer a similar core set of features, what sets TD/OMS apart is its support for popular fourth-generation languages (4GLs) for the IBM i platform, including LANSA‘s RDML, CA‘s 2E and Plex, AS/SET, Magic Software‘s 4GL, and IDDOS, which is primarily used in Europe.
Last month, Remain announced its support within TD/OMS for so-called “continuous integration” of Enterprise Generation Language (EGL), the IBM 4GL that generates Java or COBOL for IBM i and z/OS shops. The capability to automate the build and distribution process of EGL-based Web services leads to less risk of distributing faulty software, the company says.
While other change management products integrate with 4GLs, TD/OMS is the only one that offers support for EGL, according to McKittrick. That demonstrates the company’s attitude, which emphasizes communication with customers and being responsive to their needs. “They’re very open to suggestions,” she says, adding that the vendor’s flat management structure makes it easy for Remain’s top developers to interact with customers.
The U.S. change management vendors used to have the same structure, but no longer. “It is very interesting that the European companies are the ones that are independently owned,” McKittrick says. “All the U.S. change management vendors are owned by somebody bigger now. So the same small feeling–the ability to get it done–has gone offshore.”
Solutions First is now selling and supporting TD/OMS in the U.S. and Canada. The deal, which is not exclusive, gives Solutions First the option of creating a reseller network if demand for the product warrants expansion. Remain’s general manager Marco Kok says TD/OMS customers in the states and provinces will be in good hands. “This is a great benefit for customers in the USA and Canada, who can be assured that they are in contact with a company that knows exactly what SCM [software change management] is all about.”
This is the second attempt by Remain Software to create a U.S. distribution channel. The first ended not long ago, McKittrick says. While Remain Software is not very well known in the U.S., it is quite well established in Europe, where it has more than 300 customers. The company, which was founded in 1989, has been expanding lately, with new partners in Greece and China. TD/OMS is also distributed by Valok Global Midrange Software Solutions.
Later this year, Remain Software is expected to announce the first release of software as part of Project Gravity, its plan to deliver TD/OMS as a multi-platform framework. The capability to run the code repository on Windows or Linux instead of IBM i will give the company more business, McKittrick says. “So if somebody on iSeries or IBM i is going to another platform, but they’ve been doing change management under TD/OMS, they can now migrate it to another platform rather than lose what they’ve done,” she says.