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February 10, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:57pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Although client/server and the Internet are undoubtedly the hot areas of software testing, the mainframe sector is far from spent. It may have the reputation of being the unfashionable sector of what used to be an unglamorous market, but figures from market analysts IDC show that mainframe sales accounted for a quarter of the $421 million testing tools market in 1995, with IBM – by virtue of its mainframe products – the largest single supplier with a 12% market share.

According to market analysis, nine out of ten mainframe users employ testing tools and, unsurprisingly, nearly all the mainframe system software specialists – including Computer Associates, Candle and Viasoft – have a range of software testing interests. The most active player in this sector is 23-year old mainframe programmer software veteran Compuware, which claims to be the only end-to-end supplier of software testing tools, offering a mixed bag of products covering the complete test management lifecycle. All the rest are niche suppliers, says Ian Meakin, Compuware’s product marketing manager.

Compuware derives more than half of its revenues from debugging software testing and associated software and services and, in 1995, that helped it to become the world’s ninth largest software vendor with revenues up 15% to $614 million. Furthermore, while many analysts forecasts show mainframe-related testing revenues gradually eroding as users replace mainframe applications with client/server systems, Compuware, and others, claim to be enjoying a resurgence in demand. In its latest quarter, Compuware saw revenues rise 31% to $183.4 million, with net income up 53%, before a $5.1 charge relating to acquisitions.

These figures may be some way off the treble digit growth being enjoyed by the leading client/server testing tools vendors, but they are not indicative of a market facing imminent demise. The key factor driving this upsurge is the ‘Year 2000’ date issue. According to analysts, as much as 50% of Year 2000 project conversion costs will be tied up with software testing. The Year 2000 data conversion solution requires a massive systems testing effort to ensure the quality of the modified applications is not negatively impacted, says Richard Heiman of IDC. The same is also likely to be true for the up-coming implementation of a single European currency. Given that most of these projects are mainframe-centric, the prospects for vendors of mainframe testing tools, through to the end of the decade at least, look promising. The rate of growth of mainframe testing was decreasing. Now it is increasing, says Meakin. That kind of field evidence may cause some market research groups to redraw their forecasts for mainframe testing tools.

To ensure survival beyond the end of the decade, however, the mainframe testing vendors recognize that they have to expand into the client/server space – a market in which they currently have little visibility. While the majority of the recent acquisition activity has centered on client/server specialists buying client/server specialists, Compuware has also dipped into that market, picking up two companies – DRD Promark and Direct Technology – over the course of the last year. Compuware is now in the process of integrating its offerings into a common product family, called QA Center, with a single repository for all testing scripts. It says it expects QA Center to generate several million dollars worth of product revenue in fiscal 1997 and to start to impact the dedicated client/server testing tools vendors. Given their grip on the market, that is likely to prove a difficult challenge.

Taken from the February 1997 Computer Business Review article on Software Testing Tools.

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