New Tool Eases Pain of Multiplatform Change Management

Companies bringing traditional AS/400 business operations online to the Web face a number of organizational, process and IT system challenges. The most complicated task is managing multiplatform implementations of code, from the AS/400 to Web servers and Windows NT. The latest release of the Implementer change management tool from Mortice Kern Systems Inc. (MKS, Lombard, Ill.) addresses these multiplatform headaches.

AS/400 customers can now extend integrated management control across multiple platforms, including Windows NT and the Web, according to Stacia MacLeod, a technical consultant with MKS. "The Web has also made the information technology environment more complex. AS/400 development must be integrated with new platforms such as NT, and support new graphical and Web development tools." MacLeod notes that the intent of Implementer 5.0 is to "relieve the bottleneck going out to the Web. We'll help manage Java while changing to another platform.

"It's important to make sure sites have the latest code, especially in AS/400 environments that include desktop networks." The tool is targeted at ISVs and corporate development operations, says MacLeod. In fact, "Large companies often act as software distributors to all their 'customers,'" she notes. "We want to help our customers have better quality control with their customers."

Implementer 5.0 includes the same change control for the IFS (Integrated File System) as it does for the traditional AS/400 environment. The new version also supports integrated front-end and back-office change management. Implementer 5.0, in conjunction with MKS Source Integrity, a desktop configuration tool, enables AS/400 developers to manage both GUI and Web development.

Supporting a single change request across all platforms ensures that all the software components associated with the change request go into production at exactly the same time. Users can log new problems and track their progress in Windows and Web-based change management. A single problem report can be used to manage a change across multiple platforms.

Implementer 5.0 also includes release control to allow additional management control and orientation by release name or number for managing production environments and reviewing release history. Implementer users can continue working in a continuous development model or a fixed-version development model, which also supports PTFs for each version optimizing developer time and productivity. A release deployment feature enables users to manage, track and deploy software changes by client, installed system, licensed product, version number or PTF, as well as check current release status and shipments.

Internal and external clients now have greater control and flexibility over installation of change packages, such as user-specified test libraries, scheduled installations and control over object owners and authorities. Implementer also now includes a Java-based configuration wizard for the management of user capabilities, an enhanced developer's workbench, and TCP/IP and FTP support.

Another application of the tool is in maintaining identical versions of the code on hot sites for disaster recovery, MacLeod adds. "We're working with Mimix (from Lakeview Technologies) to enable data to be sent over to disaster recovery sites," she says. She recalls how one AS/400 Web server site recently took a more than a month to recover. "We need change management tools for the Web."