Cognos offers its own migration option for its 3000
customers, one that moves MPE/iX PowerHouse applications to the HP-UX
environment. At Idaho State University, IT manager Blair Combs said
the products track record has earned PowerHouse another lap on
HPs new course.
We are committed to PowerHouse and PowerHouse Web
for the foreseeable future, Combs said. We have plans in
place to move our systems to HP-UX running Eloquence by the end of
2006. We are beta-testing the latest version of PowerHouse for HP-UX
that supports Eloquence.
Combs said the 4GL has kept the IT headcount down for the
university. PowerHouse has provided us the ability to continue
developing in-house systems while supporting over 80 existing
application systems with only nine full-time staff, he said.
The stability of the HP 3000 and PowerHouse are second to none.
We expect this to continue when we move to HP-UX.
But some Cognos customers have shown concern over the
companys shift toward BI products, and are researching steps to
move away from PowerHouse. CORE Migration, a company operating in
Cognos headquarters city of Ottawa, has put together a
migration suite of tools and services to move customers. One CORE
white paper tells the story of an ERP software provider, Visaer, that
first shifted away from its MPE PowerHouse roots, then off the 4GL
altogether. The company decided that the focus at Cognos had moved
away from PowerHouse.
There are two ways of accessing the CORE Migration method,
paths which may sound familiar to companies which are studying
migration options: CORE-Directed, where the company manages the
migration start to finish, and Self-Directed, where CORE plans the
migration and trains customers to use its tools. COREs VP of
Sales and Marketing Wayne Lucky said the CORE-Directed option is
fastest, and the majority of its engagements are in this method.
It depends on the skill set of the customer,
he said, and whether they want to get involved.
Visaer came out of the HP 3000 environment with its MRP
applications, according to Chief Technology Officer Geoff Andrews of
Visaer. The company first created its Visibility MRP application
using PowerHouse on MPE, then spun off the product into the aerospace
maintenance sector to create Visaer, which Andrews described as
software to manage the medical records of an aircraft.
Visaer moved away from the HP 3000 and Digital VMS to
Oracle and Unix in the middle 1990s, and later used Core to make
their transition away from PowerHouse in 2001 and 2002. Andrews said
the engagement proceeded as well as he expected, adding that the
database work was behind them when CORE began working at Visaer.
We were already in the relational database
environment, so we didnt have a lot of the issues that
COREs other customers have, of figuring their way from
non-relational database to relational, Andrews said.
Wed already paid that price with our own staff.
Andrews said he felt he could have been better prepared
for the work with CORE by being more rigorous about analyzing
I would have been a little more brutal about
retiring old and tired functionality, he said. We ended
up paying for some stuff that probably didnt need to be
Regardless of which way the customer proceeds, COREs
migration is being touted as faster than replacing a PowerHouse
application with something off the shelf, or building it from
scratch. Then theres the added benefit of knowing what
you will get before you buy, Lucky said.
Migration isnt often associated with rapid results,
but CORE stands behind its automation in making the claim.
Because of our design preservation process, we
automatically capture those critical business rules, Lucky
said, so we eliminate the tedious and time consuming
requirement for analysis, functional specs, detailed design the
application architecture, those kinds of things. We do all that
automatically, and thats where we save time and money.
The company uses a workbench thats made up of a
Design Preservation Toolkit, a repository of an object-oriented
database and API library, and a Forward-Engineering Toolkit.
PowerHouse applications are re-engineered by these tools to the
Microsoft .NET or Java environments. IMAGE and KSAM databases are
moved to Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase and DB2 databases.
Core says its Migration Repository converts business rules
and program instructions to a language neutral format, meaning it
removes the PowerHouse syntax specifics. Because of our
technology, PowerHouse similarities are evident in the new
technology, Lucky said. While automation is key to the value in
the CORE engagement, Lucky said migrations are never fully automated.
Whether through COREs engineers or the customers
developers, some human effort is required to finish each job.
Even though our goal is to get the automation to 100
percent, we recognize well probably never get there, because of
the intricacies in the way PowerHouse and the dictionary deal with
the operating system, the database and 3GL programs, Lucky
said. We tell the customer from 70 to 90 percent of the work
can be automated, and the rest is manual.
The Forward Engineering Tool supports the transformation
of PowerHouse specifics. Quiz reports become stored procedures and
Active Reports or Crystal Reports; QTP programs become PL/SQL,
Transact SQL or Java; and QDesign programs are transformed into
ASP.NET or Java with JSP for the presentation layer and
Enterprise Java Beans for the business logic.
COREs message to PowerHouse customers is that they
are relying on technology that has served them well. However,
newer, modern technologies such as Java and .NET provide additional
capabilities and functionality that better meets the demands of
businesses today, Lucky said.
User interface issues dont motivate PowerHouse
migrations as much as these kinds of essential technology choices, he
added. Mission-critical applications like those built in PowerHouse
represent an investment that most sites find difficult to quantify.
The programs grew up before packaged software became available.
They have written some custom logic in their
application that gives them competitive advantage, he said.
They severely underestimate the time and dollars to move this
properly. They think theyll hire a couple of .NET programmers
to recreate the screens.