MANMAN market hopeful over new owner
ERP-focused buyer SSA Global open to new prospects
With its purchase of MANMANs owners, SSA Global
Technologies has sent a shiver of hope through the community using
the venerable ERP package on HP 3000s. SSAs April acquisition
of InterBiz puts the manufacturing suite back into the stable of a
firm whose core business solutions serve ERP needs.
Mike Greenough, CEO of the $130 million privately
held firm, said his company will meet all promises extended to MANMAN
customers by InterBiz. But he expects to offer the sites more than
free license swaps for the other solutions in the InterBiz solution
lineup. A change, however, isnt necessarily what Greenough
imagines all his MANMAN customers need.
Changing your ERP solution is like getting a
blood transfusion, he said a few weeks after announcing the
deal to buy InterBiz and its customers from Computer Associates.
Youve got to make sure you get the right match, or the
patients going to die. We recognize the customers have
significant investments, and one size probably does not fit
Thousands of SSA Global customers are wearing a
single suit, however: BPCS, a solution that has sold many an AS/400
IBM server over the years. Greenough estimates about two-thirds of
the companys 10,000-customer base is using BPCS, which is also
offered on Windows NT and Unix platforms from HP and IBM.
The combined product lineup at SSA swelled with the
acquisition, but as Greenough said, I didnt buy this
customer base with a view to killing any products. I want to extend
the life of products. The CEO said SSA was aware that the
InterBiz HP 3000 customers had already received end of life
advisories from HP as his company completed the deal.
Such moves by vendors have been a part of SSAs
history, Greenough said. If a technical barrier is raised and I
can no longer support [such customers], then I want the customers to
feel their migration will be smoother within our family of products
than anybody elses.
The InterBiz offers to move MANMAN customers to other
InterBiz products PRMS and KBM, MK Manufacturing and the DEC version
of MANMAN are still good, because we havent provided any
better alternatives, Greenough said. But we believe
were going to. PRMS and KBM also run on the AS/400
servers, now known as the iSeries.
MANMAN suppliers of add-on software and third-party
support said in the early days after the deal the acquisition had
sprinkled some hope around the community. The people I have
talked to range from hopefully optimistic to waiting on the
fence, said Julie Brisker-Haymons, CEO of Quantum Software.
The maker of add-on products for MANMAN on HP 3000s
said that the sale of the MANMANs owner means MANMAN is
still a marketable product, and it is proof that it is still a player
in the manufacturing community. We believe that this change will
bring a new perspective and vision to the MANMAN community. It is our
hope that the new team will focus on the strength of the MANMAN
system as well as its future.
Moving off MANMAN can provide a revenue stream for
SSA, she noted. But Brisker-Haymon believes a better alternative
doesnt exist for much of the MANMAN base. Maybe
theres something thats newer technology, but does it
really do what MANMAN does for these companies? If there was
something else out there, they wouldnt still be on
Terry Floyd, founder of third-party support agency
the Support Group inc., said moving MANMAN away from CA could improve
the future for the product. It will be better, because
everybodys got a positive attitude and wants [the future] to be
better, he said.
Floyd gives a speech called 10 Big Things Wrong
with MANMAN, and What to Do About Them. Theres many things to
be done, he said.
SSAs Greenough said the company expected to
decide about porting MANMAN to HP-UX by early June. Floyd said a
better timetable for the decision might be two or three years, and
hopefully the answer on migration would be no.
Whats the hurry? he said. If
I want to run MANMAN, I need to buy a new N-Class HP 3000 and run
MANMAN. Why would I go to Unix with a 25-year old application? You
cant change the basement underneath MANMAN.