Magic Building AS/400 Business

Magic Software (Irvine, Calif.) isn’t really a new player in the AS/400 application development tools arena. Its Magic/400 RAD toolset has been available for the last three years. But the company is making a strong push to become what it calls, “the premier productivity solutions provider in the AS/400 market.”

The company is rolling out the third release of Magic/400 next month, a more mature version that features an integrated Internet development environment for e-business, messaging support for AS/400 data queues and MQ/Series, and integration with the DB2/400 open query file function using server-side record selection for improved performance.

Magic/400 can also call legacy RPG and COBOL programs and be called by those programs with the Magic engine running on other platforms. This gives RPG and COBOL programs access to new function. The tool features a graphical, table-driven, spreadsheet-like format.

“Instead of writing code, you fill out tables,” says Alan Zwiren, VP of marketing at Magic. “You can deploy applications to client/server, Internet, intranet and extranet environments.”

Zwiren himself is a part of Magic’s increasing AS/400 presence. A veteran of IBM’s original rollout of the AS/400 10 years ago, he joined Magic earlier this year from Synon Corp., just before it was absorbed into Sterling Software.

He says Magic has seen 140 percent growth in its AS/400 revenues in the past year, up to $40 million, accounting for more than 20 percent of the company’s total revenues. Zwiren predicts Magic/400 will account for 25 percent of Magic Software’s business this year and will eventually bring in a third of the company’s revenues.

“We have a strong commitment to build our business around the AS/400. The AS/400 is our biggest environment for growth and the box we’ll grow strongest on,” he says. Though it builds graphical applications, Magic’s strategy in building its AS/400 business is to embrace RPG. “We don’t want to come in and say, ‘Replace your RPG,’” explains Zwiren. “We don’t want to replace it, we want to integrate it. We take that environment and make a bridge to what’s happening today. We start with existing RPG programs and add the logic to put those programs into an e-business environment.”

E-business is the first technology focus of Magic/400. Components, Java and Lotus Domino are down the road. To that end, Magic has formed dedicated Magic/400 R&D and support teams that will work closely with IBM’s Rochester, Minn. labs to make those technologies a reality for Magic/400 customers.

The company also plans to enter into a number of strategic partnerships to help bring its products to a broader audience. They’ve already begun working with IMS Consulting.

“We have a mature product that’s ready to take its place in the marketplace,” says Zwiren.