Chrono-Logic Change Management Software Targets IBM i
February 4, 2015 Dan Burger
Business-focused application development is what IBM midrange programmers do. That part hasn’t changed. How they do it has changed quite a bit, particularly since organizations have gained a greater awareness of the business benefits of modernization. This goes beyond the beautification of green-screen apps and digs much deeper into the functionality of the business logic and includes database modernization, too. And it shines a light on change management software and what it adds to the modernization effort.
We are seeing change management software vendors become more active in telling the modernization story. They are making investments in their products and incorporating features specifically for modernization projects. They are also fighting to become noticed.
Chrono-Logic is one of those companies. Unless you are familiar with the LANSA development environment, which has been used in a fair number of IBM i shops for many years, you are unlikely to have heard about Chrono-Logic. Its business was always tied to helping LANSA developers control and manage application development processes, which also included the management of RPG, COBOL, Java, and Microsoft-based development technologies.
Its capabilities include task management, version control, code promotion, and simple deployment to multiple IBM i target servers. In addition, Chrono-Logic develops software for code impact analysis, which plays an important role in modernization projects by identifying cross-references in functions, files, fields, and components.
In October 2014, Chrono-Logic quietly rolled out change management software specifically for the IBM i community. It manages RPG, COBOL, CL, PHP, Java, and .NET.
Now it’s ready for some attention.
Ghislain Jacques, Chrono-Logic’s vice president of development, told IT Jungle his company wants to grow and the IBM i-specific product opens a much bigger market. “The business is good with LANSA,” he says, “but we want more business. With all the modernization that is going on, we thought it was time to roll out the new product. “All companies involved in modernization need a change management system. I think there will be a lot of growth in this area in the coming years.”
The IBM i-focused product, which is called iAM4 IBM i, can be used by itself, but Jacques believes what sets Chrono-Logic from other in the change management arena is a companion product called iAM4 Windows. When the two products are used in concert, it allows both the IBM i development team and the Windows development team to simultaneously deploy objects to their respective servers. This will be a big benefit for organizations that use IBM i for back-end applications and Windows servers for front-end Web applications, as it matches the IBM i version with the one on Windows.
You may have heard the rumor going around that IBM i developers and Windows developers have a cats and dogs type of relationship, but Chrono-Logic is counting on the appeal of software that can work with both sides.
“Because the Windows apps on the front end are talking with the IBM i, the promotion of applications works better if done simultaneously,” Jacques says. “A single request promotes objects from test to production. And if there is a problem with one side or the other, everything is rolled back automatically on both servers.”
The product design is very similar to the LANSA change management product that Chrono-Logic originally developed eight years ago and periodically enhanced since then. The most notable difference is the LANSA portion has been removed from the IBM i product. As Jacques points out, the LANSA customers manage much of the same environments as the IBM i customers.
To simplify the promotion process, the iAM4 software (both the IBM i and the Windows versions) uses a dashboard to verify status of all promotions. The information is displayed using green, yellow and red lights to indicate deployment status to all target environments.
Because of its ties to the LANSA product, Jacques says the new IBM i product is “time tested.” Customer satisfaction is very high among LANSA customers, he contends.
Chrono-Logic has its corporate headquarters in Montreal, Canada, although Jacques estimates 80 percent of its customers are in the United States. Canada contributes nearly 20 percent of the company’s customers, and a small number of customers are outside of North America.