Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dell Enters Application Modernization Market

Last week, Dell announced that it was acquiring Clerity Solutions, the Chicago-based global vendor specializing in migrating applications from the mainframe.

Dell also announced they would purchase Wyse Technology, a cloud client computing firm, as well as Make Technologies, "a leading global provider of application modernization software and services that reduce the cost, risk and time required to re-engineer applications."

Dell's coordinated purchase of Clerity, Wyse, and Make Technologies will position them to help accelerate the demise of the mainframe computer, moving expensive workload "onto more modern architectures, including the cloud."

Dell's competitor HP has already gone down this path.

Back in 2008, HP spent about $13 billion to acquire services heavyweight EDS. They also partnered with Micro Focus for application modernization software. Emerging out of this was an application modernization group focused on moving workload off of the mainframe. See an earlier blog post for more information.

Now, Dell and HP are in a head-to-head struggle to see who can more quickly move more legacy apps off of the mainframe onto their platforms. This is a battle to gain mid-range platform market share by stealing it from the IBM mainframe.

Should IBM be worried that two mid-range competitors are consolidating on different flanks, both intent on eliminating the mainframe computer?

Many companies want to eliminate the high cost of running legacy applications on mainframe computers. The initial big ticket price was one thing, but most software vendors annually hit their customers with 20% maintenance fees. If a decade ago you spent $1 million for a mainframe software product, you probably pay $200K each year just to keep it updated.

Over those ten years, you may have already spent $3 million on that one package; a product for which today you cannot find technical support resources. A product for which you will continue to pay annual maintenance fees despite declining usage.

Mainframe software customers got the short end of the stick, but what could they do? Their challenge has always been the extremely high cost and risk of trying to migrate off the mainframe.

Now that Dell and HP are making it easier for customers to part ways with IBM, more companies will stop just considering leaving the mainframe and try it.  

If you have a legacy 4GL (such as FOCUS, NOMAD, or RAMIS) still running on the mainframe, click here to read my 2008 blog article on the topic of migrating and modernizing them. 

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.