Unicom Adds HP3000 Biz with Cognos ADT Buy
January 21, 2014 Alex Woodie
On the last day of 2013, Unicom Systems announced that it acquired the Cognos Application Development Tools (ADT) from IBM. The ADT suit, including the PowerHouse 4GL tools, were used extensively in the HP3000 and VMS worlds, and although the tools haven’t seen new features in years, Unicom sees the acquisition as strategic.
The ADT suite is composed of the PowerHouse server, PowerHouse Web, and Axiant 4GL tools. PowerHouse is a byte-compiled 4GL originally produced by Cognos-predecessor Quasar Corp. in 1982. The 4GL used a centralized data dictionary approach to speed development of applications, and found success against popular 3GL languages of the day, such as COBOL and PL/1.
Cognos originally targeted the Hewlett-Packard HP3000 mini-computer and its underlying database with the PowerHouse tools. Later, the tools were ported to run on other systems, including the IBM AS/400, DEC’s VAX, Data General’s Eclipse MV, and Unix. In 1995, Cognos launched Axiant, a port of the PowerHouse syntax to a Windows IDE. In 1999, it launched PowerHouse Web to generate Web interfaces. By the year 2000, PowerHouse sales were slowing as the business world moved to adopt X86 platforms.
It’s unknown how many PowerHouse customers remain in the wild. PowerHouse tools are still used by customers all over the world, with the heaviest concentration in the healthcare and government markets, Unicom says.
Cognos stopped development of the product just before it sold itself to IBM for $5 billion in late 2007. That was a source of concern to HP3000 and VMS shops that continue to use it, according to an article about the Unicom acquisition of PowerHouse in 3000NewsWire.
“Customers in the 3000 community and those in the VMS world have been vocal about seeing little that’s new in the software. Cognos froze development on the 8.49G version of Powerhouse before selling itself to IBM in 2009,” the 3000NewsWire article states.
For Unicom, the PowerHouse tools give it entry into companies that still run the old HP3000 server, which Hewlett-Packard killed a decade ago. The Mission Hills, California, company already has a collection of tools for other “legacy” platforms, like IBM i and System z mainframe.
“We appreciate IBM’s trust in selling us the Cognos” ADT tools, stated Unicom CEO Corry Hong in a press release. “We will cooperate with IBM to ensure a smooth transition for customers.”
In other PowerHouse news among IBM i software vendors, Fresche Legacy announced that Quebec-based Union des artistes (UDA) has selected it to help with an old financial system developed with PowerHouse.
UDA brought Fresche Legacy in to assess the PowerHouse system, with an eye toward eventually replacing it. The application is critical to UDA, however, and replacing it will not be easy. In the meantime, Fresche Legacy will ensure the viability of the aging system until a suitable migration path can be chosen.