Reader Feedback On Control Your Code, Control Your Costs And Destiny
January 23, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Thanks for the article on home-grown RPG software. The company I work for is still running the software we wrote on the System/38 and we continue to enhance it daily. I believe it has given us an edge over many packaged software customers. We don’t have to ask for changes, we make them.
Yes, we too have looked into replacing our systems several times, but haven’t found packages doing things the way we have done for 27 plus years! I just need to find some young talent that wants to learn RPG and doesn’t mind the green screen. It’s a great company and has a very bright future!
You said at the end of this article that you do not know of any ERP package on the AS/400 that supplies the customer with source code under a license agreement. I know that Oracle’s JD Edwards World ERP package does give you the source code so you can modify it to meet your needs.
Thanks, Tom. I know that the JDE suites historically gave the source to licensed customers, but I was unsure if Oracle still did it. And, quite frankly, I am surprised it does.
There is one vendor who does make iSeries source available to its customer base, always at an additional fee, which is ok. This vendor is TMW Systems. They have two companies under their umbrella that deal exclusively with commercial truck load carriers running on the iSeries. These two companies are TL2000 and Innovative Computing Corporation.
How do I know this? We here at Add On Systems, located in Oklahoma City, have been working on their installed base for nearly 20 years. During that time we have modified source code and now have our own “Add On” modules that replace or extend current functionality.
I do agree with your comments contained in the piece. This is usually the case in most of the comments you make. Appreciate your insight.
–Kent Hildreth, Vice President, Add On Systems, Inc
Amen. Home-grown applications truly reflect the unique history or an organization. The data and business rules are precious intellectual property, even if they are based on 25 year old technology.
That’s why I’m trying to make my Inuendo data design model open source. I’ve been shaping and perfecting the concept for the past five years at a handful of customers with home grown apps. And I must be serious about it because I’m trying to recruit college age brains to take it and run with it instead of old guys like me.
–Chris Burns, director of client systems modernization, GEMKO Information Group
Happy 2012 and all that. (BTW, what is the protocol on when to stop wishing?)
Just a short note to say that I really enjoyed reading your take on the classic build versus buy argument. I thought I’d heard about every nuance of that debate, but your observation about how Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, Facebook, and Twitter today all use “proprietary” systems for competitive advantage had not struck me in this way before. As a tool vendor, we obviously have an interest in promoting in-house development! And we are certainly seeing an increase in aggressive ERP vendors trying to charge massive license transfer fees for upgrades, which is holding the community back and getting right up IBM‘s nose.
But what really got me was the line “I hear rumors about it all the time that someone is going to take an RPG-based ERP suite open source, but somehow, this never seems to happen.”
We’ve obviously neglected to tell you that we kind of did that already: as you can see from this link.
Now, granted, this a complete ERP system–Financials, Distribution, Manufacturing–designed in LANSA, which then executes as RPG code on the AS/400. Every customer gets the source code and, as a result, there are no licensing fees, restrictions, or maintenance costs. The customer is responsible for their own installation, customization, and maintenance although they usually take an ERP expert from our Professional Services team to get them off to a fast-start. Even though we don’t actively market this product we still win new customers every year. The sustainable business model is that new customers adopt our tools and we sell some services projects.
Our mistake for not bringing this open source option to your attention before you wrote this article; but if you ever do a follow-up piece then we’d love to be included.
–Martin Fincham, chief operating officer, LANSA Group
Thanks, Martin. I am afraid I am a victim of my own memory. Or more precisely, the fact that my data has outstripped my indexes a long time ago and I simply forgot that we covered CodeStart way back in November 2003. Thanks for the reminder.
I stand by my statement that I expected open source ERP projects to do better, since business logic is something that millions of real programmers could do since this is what they do every day. No one expects an RPG programmer to do the internal kernel, file system, driver, and database development that goes into traditional open source stacks these days. And that is not where the real value to the business is anyway–unless you are Red Hat, of course.