German Import Brings AS/400 Applications to NT Market

Looking to expand its AS/400 reach, German-based PKS Software Gmbh has appointed AXI Systems LLC (Raleigh, N.C.) as its North American distributor for AX/Ware—a cross-platform technology that allows AS/400 ISVs to become players in the NT market.

German developer, PKS Software, has brought its AX/Ware software for enabling AS/400 application to perform natively on Windows NT to the United States.
A transformation and system management technology, AX/Ware enables AS/400 applications to perform natively on Windows NT using the Oracle database, providing AS/400 ISVs with the tools to transform their applications to run on NT servers. AX/Ware does not attempt to replicate an AS/400 on NT—it uses native NT compilers and APIs, standard Oracle database interface and native sockets interface to the client.

AX/Ware was originally developed in 1993 as a tool for transforming AS/400 applications to the RS/6000. Subsequent versions for HP and Sun soon followed. In 1997, PKS Software Gmbh AX/Ware launched the NT version of the product.

The appointment of AXI Systems marks the first time there is local distribution and support for AX/Ware in the United States. Previously, all distribution and support was done in Germany, limiting its U.S. reach. According to Michael Bryne, president of AXI Systems, there is one simple reason that PKS Software Gmbh decided to launch a North American distributorship.

“I think it’s a question of survival for AS/400 ISVs,” he says. “They have good products and a proven set of skills, unlike some of the modern companies. However, there’s a lot of uncertainty among AS/400 ISVs of where to go. By just staying on AS/400, you limit your applications. By putting it on NT, it opens up a world of technologies.”

Although the AS/400 has one of the world’s largest installed base with over 700,000 servers worldwide, sales have declined five out of the last six fiscal quarters, sparking concern in the AS/400 community.

For AS/400-specific ISVs, this decline in sales has led to a smaller customer base then they may have anticipated, especially considering that some of the sales have come from upgrades, rather than new purchases.

“If I was an ISV focusing only on the AS/400 market today, I would be worried,” Bryne adds. “The AS/400 won’t go away, but as a developer I want to create the best possible return on investment. I think there’s great awareness among AS/400 ISVs that NT is a strong market. There’s a lot more NT servers out there than AS/400s.”

Currently, there are over 500 AX/Ware installations worldwide, a few of which are in the United States. One U.S.-based AS/400 ISV, Global Software Inc. (Raleigh, N.C.) has already used AX/Ware to move some of its AS/400 applications to the NT platform. “They’re finding out that 80 percent of their new opportunities are coming from the NT platform,” says Bryne. “They spent a couple of years trying to figure out how to enter the NT market and with AX/Ware they were able to do that.”

AX/Ware provides a full-function GUI on the desktop or in a browser and can partition the application across multiple servers or execute it on a standalone notebook. Other features include the ability to integrate natively with applications on both the desktop and the server.

“I know of many situations where companies bought into technologies to move into the NT platform that failed,” says Bryne. “There are some low-end technologies that will rehost AS/400 applications on NT, but nothing is as broad and comprehensive as AX/Ware. No one can take a green screen application and partition it to a 32-bit GUI that runs on a browser or Windows desktop and then take the application logic and compile it natively on NT.”

While AXI will be distributing all four versions of AX/Ware, Bryne says they will be “concentrating on NT, because that’s where the market is.”

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