What HelpSystems Is Up To Now
June 13, 2018 Alex Woodie
Thanks to a slew of acquisitions, HelpSystems has become one the largest independent software vendors in the IBM i marketplace, with tools spanning operations, security, backup, high availability, forms management, and capacity planning. A company representative recent sat down with IT Jungle at the recent COMMON PowerUp conference to talk about what’s new.
HelpSystems didn’t have a single major product launch at the COMMON conference in San Antonio, Texas, two weeks ago. Instead the company used the event to showcase multiple enhancements, and to talk about future products — such as a security information and event management (SIEM) solution and a new analytics dashboard — that are coming down the pike.
Now Insite is getting a wider roll-out.
“We’ve been kind of piloting it in the Robot and PowerTech space and now we’re adding more and more to it,” said Tom Huntington, HelpSystems vice president of technical services. While the company doesn’t plan to use Insite with all of its 120-plus products, it does plan to use it with many of them, including another 14 this year, he said.
Huntington says Insite is gaining traction with customers for multiple reasons. For starters, it’s free. Secondly, it’s not a 5250 greenscreen. “You can still use green screen if you want. But the world’s changing out there and the new people coming in don’t want to use green screen,” he said. And thirdly, Insite lets administrators grant users read-only access to products like the popular Robot/SCHEDULE without giving them full access to the software or installing anything on their PCs.
The Insite product, which runs on Intel and Power servers and includes a Postgres database, complements HelpSystems cross-platform development strategy. While the IBM i accounts for about 55 percent to 60 percent of HelpSystems business, according to Huntington, the Windows and Linux business is growing quickly. “We love IBM i. We’re very much committed to IBM i,” he said. “We’re doing a whole lot with other platforms that people don’t realize.”
At the end of April, HelpSystems launched Insite Analytics, which is an add-on that extends Insight with business intelligence capabilities. The product lets users build analytic dashboards with data from Db2, SQL Server, and Oracle databases.
“You have data sources all over the place,” Huntington said. “It gives you the ability . . . to join tables, columns, fields. You can build widgets and dashboards. We’re just getting stated on this. This is phase one. Phase two will be charting.” Insite Analytics is not free, but reasonably priced, Huntington said.
HelpSystems is close to unveiling a new SIEM product that will provide a high-level, cross-platform view of enterprise security. The product, which is based on technology it obtained with its Tango/04 acquisition, will be able to read a variety of log files, Syslog files, SNMP traps, flat files, and database files generated by IBM i, Linux, Windows, and Oracle systems. It will also allow users to drill down into individual events through the Insight GUI.
“We’re going to jump into the SIEM business with this product,” Huntington said. “There are customers on IBM i that are using Syslog tools Splunk, LogRhythm, and [IBM‘s] QRadar. Those guys have been around for years, but they don’t understand IBM i like HelpSystems. I think there’s going to be a huge [opportunity] for our IBM i customers, especially that mid-tier customer that doesn’t have a Syslog tool, but they also have Windows servers and they’re looking for something still. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”
HelpSystems also just shipped a new update to Access Authenticator, a multi-factor authentication (MFA) product the company first launched last year. With version 1.3, the company gets new APIs for integrating with a wider array of products. It also gets support for one-time password generation.
On the performance monitoring front, HelpSystems has finally rebranded the old QSystemMonitor that it obtained with its acquisition of CCSS in 2012. The company has rebranded that product as Robot Monitor. It also added support in Robot Monitor for collecting and monitoring VIOS and AIX performance data in addition to IBM i data, Huntington said.
HelpSystems also spruced up its two business intelligence and reporting tools, Sequel and Showcase, with support for Oracle 12 (they also support Db2 for i, of course). And finally on the document management front, HelpSystems shipped WebDocs Forms Management 1.0, a tool that lets users build database-powered Web form applications.
Yes, the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, company has a lot on its plate. Whether its managing its own 120+ products or continuing the development of three of IBM’s own apps – Rational Developer for i (RDi), BRMS, or PowerHA – there is no shortage of products to attend to.
And don’t be surprised if a few more are added, maybe even later this year. “We will do additional acquisitions,” Huntington said. “That’s just the name of the game.”