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July 2003

Expeditors moves more than clients’ shipments

Outside help

Expeditors met with several developers from Neartek at the start of the project, and Neartek’s group took away samples of the Expeditors application code. Neartek then showed Fritz’s team how the code would look when it had passed through the converter.
But all of the work has been performed inside Expeditors since the initial meetings, with Neartek acting as an advisor when needed.

“Since then, we’ve had a core team of developers with over 80 years of experience in our [in-house] software development working on the conversion using the [Neartek] tools,” Fritz said. “We are in contact with Neartek on a regular basis, for issues like being able to emulate a particular MPE command, for example. They’ve been extremely supportive in implementing the MPE emulation.”

Training the large application support staff has been easier than expected because of the wide range of MPE commands that AMXW supports, Fritz said. “They have a lot of familiarity with MPE, and almost none with Unix,” she said. “Not having to retrain the 50-60 people was a nice surprise.”

A new future

Expeditors’ development is moving into a Unix future from MPE experience by learning the skills as it goes, in several cases. Fritz said only two of its team members had Unix experience before working on the project.

Expeditors made its decision within a month or two of the HP end of support announcement in 2001, and evaluated tools until May, 2002. The ability to purchase tools to do the work themselves — a classic profile of HP 3000 customers who’ve been with the platform as long as Expeditors — fit well with the company strategy. The project was always considered an in-house effort, Fritz said, because the company avoids outsourcing or extensive consulting engagements.

“Expeditors doesn’t do business that way,” she said. “We prefer to keep the expertise in-house and have control over the process. There’s nobody that knows our business better than our own developers.”


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