CM First Uses Hometown COMMON as Launch Pad for IBM i Tools
April 3, 2013 Alex Woodie
One of the new IBM i software vendors exhibiting at next week’s COMMON conference in Austin, Texas, is CM First. The Swiss company opened its US office in Austin two years ago, and sees a favorable market developing for its products, including change management and Web and mobile development tools for CA 2E and Plex customers.
CM First develops application lifecycle management (ALM) and Web/mobile development tools aimed at helping IBM i and mainframe customers modernize their applications. In 12 years of business, the company has attracted about 400 customers, most of which are located in Europe and have invested in CA’s 4GL frameworks.
“We focus very much on CA technology, CA Plex and CA 2e. We extend or build tools around those platforms,” CM First managing director Christoph Heinrich tells IT Jungle. “This includes CM WebClient, which allows us to generate mobile and Web interfaces directly from the Plex model. We also extended our ALM solution, CM MatchPoint, to support the development and deployment of those solutions.”
CM First opened its Austin office in 2010, after hiring John Rhodes, who had developed the WebClient product at ADC Austin, a CA business partner based in that weird Texas town. Then in 2011, CM First acquired the rights to WebClient and renamed it CM WebClient.
Although the CM WebClient tools require a CA Plex model to function, some IBM i shops are buying CA Plex just to be able to get the Web and mobile development capabilities from CM WebClient, Rhodes says.
“We see folks in IBM i that don’t have Plex or 2e, but see it as good technology, so they end up buying it as a bundle, as a package, for mobile and web development,” he says. “We’ll sell both products [CM WebClient and CA Plex] together as a bundled package.”
Apparently, CA Plex is selling like gangbusters, nearly 20 years after Simon Williams first released it as the client-server equivalent of his first blockbuster product, Synon 2e. Much of this stems from 2e customers who are upgrading to Plex. But the capability to generate business logic in RPG, Java, and C#, while creating modern Web 2.0 interfaces using JavaScipt and HTML5, is also attracting new customers, particularly among IBM i shops looking to keep one foot firmly in the RPG world while figuring out their future development strategy.
“We see customers who have tried different approaches of migrating or modernizing and have failed in the past,” Heinrich says. “They see Plex as a good way to partially modernize their existing application and integrate their legacy code. That works really well for some customers.”
CM First is planning to bolster CM WebClient with new capabilities, including support for tablets and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 operating system. The company is also looking to gain some traction with CM MatchPoint ALM, which offers change management and code deployment capabilities for IBM i and Windows environments.
CM MatchPoint ALM has several things going for it, according to Heinrich. First, it has solid integration to CA 2e and Plex products, and can help keep development in those environments on the straight and narrow, he says. That is one feature that attracts new customers, particularly those who may be buying Plex and CM WebClient as a bundle.
Heinrich has another pitch he uses for customers of existing ALM products. “From a cost perspective, we are lower priced than most of our competitors. And also from a handling perspective, it’s much easier to implement and use than the competitive solutions. Not only will license cost be lower, but implementation can be done in a few days.”
CM First does not go for the “feature rich” approach with its ALM software. Instead, it is aiming to attract IBM i shops that may have scaled back their development on the platform, and no longer have a need for feature rich ALM tools. “Some customers are looking around to get rid of some of the maintenance costs,” Heinrich says.
CM First has a compelling answer to the acquisition cost question: zero. That’s the cost to get started with a new bundle, called MatchPoint Essentials. Unveiled last week (and sure to be discussed at COMMON next week), the solution is limited to two developer seats.
This article was corrected. The Web and mobile development tool from CM First is called CM WebClient, not CM Power. IT Jungle regrets the error.