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February 2005

ROC builds on Seay open systems solution

One year after acquisition, products aid Unix converts

The acquisition of Seay Systems drove datacenter vendor ROC Software further into the open systems business one year ago. But ROC’s HP 3000 customers might be among the most grateful for the company’s purchase of Seay in the years to come.

That’s because many 3000 shops on their way to Unix don’t know how little the native HP-UX spooler will do for them — at least compared to HP 3000 spooling. An enterprise-grade solution emerged from the acquisition.

With the January 2004 purchase of Seay, ROC added more than 1,000 customers to its rolls. Most of them use EasySpooler, the product that built Seay into the company ROC acquired. During the year after the acquisition closed, ROC re-engineered Seay’s work which had given EasySpooler enterprise-level features. ROC now sells this superset of EasySpooler as Rhapsody, offered for Windows, Linux and the Unix environments from HP, IBM and Sun.

ROC recommends Rhapsody to its migrating customers. Rhapsody adds centralized monitoring and administration of multiple servers, end-to-end encryption all the way to the printer, and a degree of fault tolerance for customers who don’t use products like HP’s ServiceGuard. It also adds high volume printer support, EasyDispatch for bursting and routing large documents, auditing, and SAP integration.

ROC’s new CEO Janet Slack and CTO Mike Broadway said that integrating Seay’s solutions with ROC’s solutions and the company support system wasn’t as important as delivering enterprise-level spooler abilities for open systems.

“Integration is easy,” Broadway said. “The significant thing is functionality.”

Rather than settle for just a new Web interface for EasySpooler and Rhapsody, the company has spent the year bringing the message of 3000-class spooling to Unix and Windows systems. It’s important to a 3000 customer base being prodded toward those platforms.

“It’s a shock to customers,” said Slack of their clients migrating to open systems. “You tell them there’s really no spooler, and they say something like ‘Oh, crap.’“

Seay’s products were aimed at the same segment of the IT industry as ROC’s products: Customers looking for software to improve on the less-than-complete tools in the operating system. In the same way that BackPack makes for a better 3000 backup solution than STORE, Rhapsody makes an alternative open system’s output as useful as MPE/iX.

ROC merged the support facilities of the two companies by May of last year. Seay customers can continue to log in to their Support Central resource with the same IDs. ROC settled in at a headcount of about 40 after the acquisition.

Slack said adding Seay’s products gives the company three main bases of datacenter solutions for its customers: scheduling, spooling and backup. ROC has spooling solutions for its HP 3000 and open systems customers in Spoolmate and Rhapsody, and scheduling options with Maestro for MPE and Maestro for Open Systems.

Backup remains an exclusive HP 3000 focus for the company. “We’ve chosen not to be in the backup market in open systems,” Slack said. But the company’s ROCPort provides flexibility in planning backup futures.

ROCPort enables data migration of MPE BackPack archives, so IT staff can transform BackPack backups using a Unix or Linux system. Conversion to text, binary, or Eloquence formats is performed via a command line. Visually designing a data conversion allows transformation into more than 100 other formats.

ROC continues to be a resource for HP 3000 sites after its acquisition, but the company is also working on expanding capabilities through open systems environments.

“One of the great things that people moving from MPE discover is that Unix is very flexible,” Broadway said. That flexibility can smooth transitions and make opportunities for vendors, too. EasySpooler has a large customer base which ROC will continue to support with new releases. “Over time we expect many but not all of these existing customers to upgrade to Rhapsody,” Broadway said.


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