Tag Archives: Mission Critical

Make some noise!

In my previous blog post I told you about my worries. I was thinking about it and even talked to a few of you about it. It reminded me of something that happened to me once. A few years ago I was hired by an organisation. I was just one of the Uniface pro’s. Besides Uniface they used another development platform. I witnessed something very interesting, let me share this with you.

Both disciplines had their own room. In one room all went well, a dozen men worked in silence, behind a closed door they achieved their goals on time and within budget. The applications they maintained were very stable and performed as expected. The other room on the other hand was very lively, the walls were filled with all kinds of merchandise. The young developers had all kinds of technical issues, played arcade games in their breaks and drank beer after work.

Can you guess in which room the Uniface developers worked? Easy one, I know. If you can guess the next answer, I’ll buy you a beer. Which platform was preferred by the management?

I am afraid this is going to cost me a fortune on beer. We all know the answer. Of course, the other guys did a great job. I am, like most of us, too negative about them and the tooling they use. The reason they were not that productive was caused by the tools they used. But did they win?

Change the point of view. Let’s say you are the management of a company. The company depends completely on a few Uniface applications. Very stable and low on maintenance costs. In the near future you expect major changes in the organisations strategy and the markets are changing rapidly. You need to invest in new applications and/or change the existing ones. Are you going to use Uniface or go for something completely new? Choosing Uniface is the rational choice, isn’t it. Imagine, you have all these experienced guys (sorry ladies, but this is a man’s world…). But you never hear them. Sometimes you wonder if they even exist! How do you know if they use modern techniques? And what if you need a dozen more of these pro’s? Where and how can you find them? When you consult google.com you’ll find all kinds of software warehouses to deliver you support on that other tool, while on Uniface all you find in the top 10 is Uniface itself.

If I had to give advice to this management, my advice would be to choose this other tool. Regardless which tool. Being a Uniface developer, as I am, I can tell you this hurts a lot. But it’s just a rational thing. Or isn’t it?

This reminds me. Once in a small village in The Netherlands the only shop closed down. All inhabitants did their grocery in the large supermarket in the adjacent city. Quiet normal, I guess you see this everywhere in the world. The next day an alderman announced in the newspaper that it would be a good idea to not only close the small shop, but also close the complete village. If the inhabitants loved the city to do their grocery, why not go and live there. This action did not save the local shop. But what if this one guy achieved to create a kind of movement. Let’s say, he achieved to motivate some entrepreneurial people. With this small group they could create new business for the local store. Instead of competing with the large competitor, focusing on the strengths. Sometimes you need the help of a community. Today, the strength is the community!

All successful tools I know have communities. Some very successful tools even are created by the community! A product community can be a partner or a critic ally for the company, but always fight on the same side. But, where is the Uniface community? All I see is a great product and a website (uniface.info) with lots of fans. But that is not a community! It is something created by Uniface. I want to create a real Uniface community.  I truly believe we have the strength to unite and make the difference!

You can either participate or wait behind a closed door and I believe I can hear some melancholic seventies music. Let’s make some noise…. Let the world know we are here…. In my next blog I will share my ideas and plans with you all. Do you have idea’s? Please contact me  🙂

Windows XP – another nail in the Coffin

I recently read this article about Chrome 50 stopping support for some older operating systems, and the mention of Windows XP caught my eye. 

From a Uniface perspective, we stopped supporting Windows XP in May 2014. Purely from a technology perspective, it freed us up in regards to choices on MS Visual Studio and even how to implement certain functionality. I’m sure in the Uniface source code there is still code that states ‘if Windows XP’…! 

Getting out and about, talking to customers, I’ve had a few conversations about Windows XP, mainly in the context of browser support and Internet Explorer 7, as in the big WWW, it’s pretty well out of control what OS, and what browser an end user can use. (Although I do remember this article about an Australian online retailer who was going to add an IE tax for their transactions.) 

Something that has come up during conversations has been customers who are doing business in China, where there is still a significant amount of Windows XP use. I’m assuming that this is related to how easy it was to bypass the MS licensing model and the availability of older specification hardware which might struggle to run a new version of Windows. 

I’m expecting that with Chrome soon to stop supporting IE, that will start to accelerate the move away from Windows XP, and I’m guessing some of the hardware manufacturers will be rubbing their hands with the anticipation of a peak in new hardware sales, and the recyclers are preparing for more obsolete hardware to be stripped for precious metals. 

And on a personal note, it appears I need to buy a new Mac for use at home, as I’m also impacted by Chrome 50 not supporting my version of Mac OSX! 

Gartner Symposium, Barcelona: Strategic Decision Makers, Old Colleagues & a Famous Footballer!

This week, Uniface exhibited at the Gartner Symposium held in BarcelonaOur team was composed of representatives from marketing, sales and management, with the aim to promote Uniface, whilst also attending sessions held by Gartner and its sponsors. We also took the opportunity to interact with many other organizations that were exhibiting. We embraced the chance to speak to strategic decision makers, during which we had a number of very good conversations, illustrating the unparalleled strength of the Uniface platform and how it addresses the ‘challenges that keep CIOs up at night’.

We met many new organizations and partner prospects as well as existing customers, and lots of people who are part of the Uniface ecosystem. Some of those we met started their careers as Uniface professionals, a selection of which were over 20 years ago. They remained happy to see us going from strength to strength. We also met a world famous footballer!  

Uniface
Do you recognize this world famous footballer?

 Having spoken to one Gartner analyst, a key message that came across showed that the world is reacting to the concept of ‘business/mobile moments’, which manifests itself as having smaller focused apps that do one thing well. The huge monolithic applications we know today will transition to API services (i.e. a strong integrated backend) and there will be more targeted single function mobile apps. These will compose the enterprise mobile solutions of the near future. This significant change is touching many parts of the IT industry and the way consumers interact with technology.

To achieve this goal, it is important for organizations to explore and embrace modern approaches, including topics such as Agile, DevOps, Continuous Delivery etc…, all with the goal to improve software quality and the velocity of delivery. Annual release cycles of new solutions have become less desirable, with our industry tending to move to small incremental releases, regularly. Consumers are not worried about version numbers, they just want continual improvement. Given the proposed small changes with each regular release, solution adoption will be better accepted, because each change, although continual, will be gradual. Things will ‘feel’ familiar and evolutionary, rather than creating potential rejection through revolutionary change. This does not suggest the complete end to significant updates by the way.

Now this may sound like a big change to an organization’s way of working…..it is. So how do we address this is a sensible way? One answer is to take Gartner’s bimodal approach. We work in the new way for all new development and innovations, while at the same time continuing in the more traditional modes for existing items, then transition this old style over time. I’ve simplified bi-modal somewhat, however I hope you get the basic idea.

Uniface
Demoing Uniface to Gartner Analyst

I spoke to a second analyst who also provided some good common sense reminders we all forget from time to time e.g. “What is the best reason to try and reduce the cost of IT?” Some would say “to improve profits.” This seems like a sensible answer and can be, however, it is flawed. A better answer is “to allocate more of the IT budget to new innovation instead of regular maintenance.” Studies suggest up to 92% of resources goes into maintenance, leaving only 8% for innovation. It is innovation that makes the difference and yields success.

In a conversation with a third analyst, more aspects about future directions were discussed. Hot topics that came up were API’s (…second nature for Uniface), legacy integration/reuse (…another walk in the park for Uniface), web and mobile development (…please give me a challenge) and aPaaS (…you got me!). The last topic is very interesting and something for us to really think about. The market still faces challenges in this area and CIOs are also ‘kept awake at night’ by this. We also talked about the transition from traditional desktop GUI’s to web based and mobile. The trend is rapidly accelerating with the vast majority of new projects now being targeted at API services & mobile, whether that be phones, tablets, wearables or web.  

Given the four days spent interacting with many new analysts & organizations, I could write endlessly, so I will stop now and save some for another day. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures.

Uniface
Uniface at Gartner Symposium

Uniface gets to work in the Martell cellars

Pernod Ricard

PR

A world leader in Wines and Spirits, Pernod Ricard have 90 subsidiaries and 100 production sites in 80 countries. The company was founded in 1975 and has 40 years of innovation, excellence and a portfolio of prestigious products. The group’s strategy currently focuses on the “Top 14” premium brands including Chivas Regal, Jameson, and Absolut.

The Challenge

The challenge for Pernod Ricard was to develop a mobile application, available offline, intended to manage and inventory all spirit barrel movement by scanning their barcodes, then synchronizing post-clearance data stored in SQLite embedded database with the Central Oracle database.

Digitalizing the processes

In 2012 the group’s IT systems were to be digitalized and Pernod Ricard looked to develop mobile functionality for the management of their cellars.

The cellars are considered having an “explosive atmosphere” (ATEX regulations) and may not be equipped with either Internet or Wi-Fi. It is, therefore, essential that the mobile devices work offline on an embedded database and then synchronize that database afterwards with the central system.

Cognac

Uniface: Technological expertise serving mobility

Equipped with Uniface for over 20 years, we continue to help Pernod Ricard meet their needs when business or technical issues require their intervention.

“Implementing the offline scans, for example, required a very sharp and pointed expertise for which we preferred to turn to Uniface,” Jean Jacques Delavaud, Head of Competency Center.

Working with Pernod Ricard, we developed an embedded SQLite database solution and our team developed a specific driver enabling the two systems to integrate.In May 2015, both the driver and the new version of Uniface were delivered and the Pernod Ricard teams are in the process of creating a prototype.

Supplier Relationship Management tool

A Supplier Relationship Management tool is already under development. Which allows providers follow their delivery status, billing information or even trace their last sample.

Pernod Ricard can then use this to gather information on projects, activities, provider issues, and better target projects to attract customers and build loyal relationships. Such successful solutions will give the group a significant competitive advantage in an increasingly complex and volatile economic environment.

By Fall 2015 the mobile application should be fully operational in two of the group’s companies for the management of more than 6.2 million barrels.

You can find out more about how Uniface helped Pernod Ricard here.

For many businesses the future is c/s and mobile, not web

I was visiting one of our VAR customers in Lille, France this week to talk about modernizing their ERP packaged application.  It’s been around for over 20 years, and they’ve undergone several modernization projects.  What struck me though was their thoughts about moving the application to the web, or making parts of the application web enabled—well actually, their decision to not do this.

Their customer base is primarily made up of factories, and of course their ERP systems are mission-critical to their manufacturing process.  What is also critical is that their ERP app works as productively as possible—and having it on the web doesn’t allow that.  I think everyone knows, even by today’s standards, that only working on a browser can be frustratingly slow. Especially in a factory/manufacturing type environment, they don’t have the time to wait around for a browser to load, process, refresh, etc.

In fact, this customer does have a web app, so it’s not entirely the case that they have abandoned this approach. But only 10% of their customer base uses it and the other 90%, they predict, won’t move away from c/s anytime soon. So that’s where the investment in their product needs to be.

So this customer’s next step for modernizing their ERP app is to make certain pieces of functionality mobile-enabled and skip the web (at least for now). They are looking carefully at what types of functionality will make sense to be made available on mobile devices—who is going to use it and for what purpose? Where will they be and what will they need to access? And I suppose that goes with the whole “mobile first” philosophy, but it’s interesting to see the need for this in an enterprise environment, where c/s is alive and kicking—and will continue to be. Will that be the case for most business applications?