HelpSystems Nabs MPG for Performance Management
August 27, 2018 Alex Woodie
Midrange Performance Group, the Boulder, Colorado-based provider of capacity and performance management software for IBM i, is the latest software vendor to call it quits and join up with HelpSystems. It was HelpSystems first acquisition of the year and 20th since 2006.
For decades, Midrange Performance Group, (MPG) has been one of the most trusted names when it comes to capacity planning and performance management for IBM i and the midrange servers that preceded it. If you want to know how your workload would run on a new Power Systems server from IBM, then you could find out using MPG’s trusty Performance Navigator (PerfNav) product.
PerfNav has been so successful over the years, with nearly 1,000 customer engagements, because it sweats the details. MPG encoded all the various Power Systems hardware configuration options that impact performance – including DASD, memory, disk-arm, and processor options, and so forth – into the PerfNav database. The end result is the product basically tells the business partner and the customer exactly what to order from IBM so they can get a Goldilocks-like fit – not too much hardware, not too little hardware, but just right.
“Our job is really to tell the business partners and IBMers from a capacity planning point of view almost exactly what to order, configuration and so forth, when they place the order from IBM,” says Randy Watson, CEO and co-owner of MPG.
In May, MPG shipped the 19th version of PerfNav, and delivered the ninth version of Power Navigator, a similar performance and capacity management product that support AIX, VIOS, Linux, Solaris, and HP-UX. While the core product was already quite mature, MPG always found new capabilities or features to add.
While MPG mostly sold to business partners and IBM representatives, that sales model is expected to change under HelpSystems ownership, says Jeff Moline, HelpSystems general manager of systems management, security, and business intelligence.
“We have no plans currently to change anything. It was a successful company and we don’t want to upset the apple cart,” Moline says. “But we’re looking for ways we can leverage that, whether through partnership in the channel that Randy has already established or introduce the product into our customer base as well . . . there’s definitely an opportunity for us to cross-pollinate, if you will, with the different solutions that we jointly offer.”
Robot Monitor has some capacity planning type functions in it, but nothing like what PerfNav offers. HelpSystems had some capacity planning capability in TeamQuest, which the company acquired in 2016. While TeamQuest did demonstrate some IBM i capabilities over a decade ago, it’s focus more recently has been squarely on Unix and open systems platforms.
Don’t be surprised if there’s some amalgamation of the TeamQuest products (which are more end-user facing) with MPG’s PerfNav capabilities (which are more business partner facing) to make capacity planning more approachable for IBM i shops.
“We’re going to have a great time integrating with what we do in that space with what they do in that space as well,” Watson says of the TeamQuest group at HelpSystems. “If you think about it, what you track and how you track it, as you get into AI and GPUs and that sort of thing, the problems become different. So we have to continually modify the solution to make sure we track that all that stuff so we can answer the questions that come up.”
The fit between MPG and HelpSystems couldn’t be better, Watson says. “I’ve always known they would be a great match,” he says. “In fact if you look around, it’s actually the best match. The only other match in the world that might be better would be IBM itself, but they’re so big it would be complicated.”
Watson had entertained offers from other companies before, but he didn’t think it would be a good fit. He also considered offers from HelpSystems on two previous occasions, but the third time evidently was a charm for him and his co-owner, Joe Camilli. “This might have been our third date,” Watson says with a chuckle. “We’ve courted before.”
By IT Jungle’s count, MPG is HelpSystems’ 20th acquisition. After getting funding from equity capital partners, the company pulled off a string of acquisitions, starting with the 2006 purchase of Advanced Systems Concepts; PowerTech, Bytware, and a European partner in 2008; a product from Innovatum in 2011; CCSS, Safestone, and Intermapper in 2012; Dartware and the ShowCase products from IBM in 2013; RJS Software and Coglin Mill in 2014; Skyview and Halcyon in 2015; Tango/04, Linoma, and Bug Busters in 2016; and TeamQuest and Fox Technologies in 2017.
All of MPG’s employees will make the migration over to HelpSystems, but the MPG office will remain in Colorado. Watson plans to see the transition through. “For the foreseeable future, I’m here to help. I’m going to help make sure this transition goes as smooth as possible,” he says. “But at some point, whenever that point is — who knows, maybe I’ll ride off into the sunset.”