LANSA Bought By Software Conglomerate Idera
January 7, 2019 Alex Woodie
LANSA, one of the oldest independent software vendors targeting the IBM midrange server and arguably one of the most successful, has been acquired by Idera, a growing conglomerate of software companies that also owns Sencha, and which is owned in part by the same private equity firm behind HelpSystems.
LANSA was founded in 1987 by Australian businessmen Peter Draney and Lyndsey Cattermole to create and sell software development tools for the IBM System/38. When IBM launched the AS/400 a year later, LANSA supported it with its fourth generation language (4GL) development environment. It hasn’t looked back, and today the company, which is headquartered near Chicago, Illinois, boasts 8,000 customers around the world.
Flexibility, adaptability, and future-proofing have been calling cards for LANSA and its development tooling over the decades. Companies that invested time and money in developing AS/400 applications with LANSA’s 4GL, called Rapid Development and Maintenance Language (RDML), knew they could adapt those applications to support other operating systems, runtime paradigms, and new technology features with relative ease, provided that LANSA updated the tooling to support them.
Over the years, LANSA developed a range of integrated development environments (IDEs) based on the core RDML language. Visual LANSA, which originally targeted AS/400 and Windows runtimes, became the flagship product for client/server and Web paradigms, while older IDEs like LANSA for the Web and LANSA for AS/400 were retired.
As the AS/400 morphed into the iSeries, System i, and now IBM i for Power Systems, LANSA kept up with the changes. As the number of companies developing their own applications shrank, the company shifted gears and augmented its IDE lineup with a range of point products, like LANSA Commerce Edition, which streamlined the creation of full-featured ecommerce websites and was a big seller for many years.
When Wal-Mart shook the global consumer processed goods supply chain with RFID requirements in the mid-2000s, LANSA responded with Data Sync Direct. In 2006, it developed a modernization service called RAMP, to be followed a year later when the company launched LANSA Composer to provide business process orchestration capabilities. LANSA launched Open for .NET in 2008, and in 2009 it acquired the aXes modernization suite. In 2012 it launched LongRange to target the burgeoning market for smartphone and tablet interfaces.
More recently, the company has shifted gears and touted itself as a provider of “low-code” capabilities with updates to Visual LANSA. While there are implementation differences between the 4GL-driven rapid application development (RAD) methodologies of yore and today’s “low-code” environments, the core ideas are remarkably compatible. (The folks at LANSA, not to mention its customers, are undoubtedly happy, if not entirely surprised, that what was old in IT is new once again.)
The story around Idera does not go back nearly as far as LANSA’s, but it is frontloaded with quite a bit more activity.
In 2014, Idera was acquired by TA Associates, one of the oldest and biggest private equity firms in the world. In 2017, TA Associates sold a controlling stake in Idera to HGGC, the same Silicon Valley private equity firm that bought a controlling stake in HelpSystems in 2018.
Terms of the deal between LANSA and Idera Inc. (the holding company that also owns Idera and a dozen or so other brands) were not disclosed. LANSA CEO Draney, who will stay with Idera in a senior leadership position, says he was impressed with Idera.
“Idera is accumulating one of the most impressive collections of developer tools in the industry,” Draney says in a press release. “When I looked for a partner, Idera’s commitment to software that is easy to use and delivers customer value faster than the competition made the choice easy. I’m excited to work closely with Idera’s leadership team to build on this momentum, and ensure LANSA’s continued success.”
Atanas Popov, general manager of Idera Inc.’s developer tools business unit, says he welcomes LANSA to the team.
“LANSA is an exciting addition to our developer tools portfolio and will be Idera Inc.’s premier low-code brand, enabling developers to build and deliver high-quality web, mobile and desktop applications exceptionally fast,” Popov says in a press release. “LANSA also expands our bench of highly skilled staff in multiple international markets, including North America, EMEA and APAC.”