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September 23, 1998

SOFTLAB BROADENS TARGET MARKET WITH ENABLERBLUE

By CBR Staff Writer

Softlab GmbH, the systems integration and software house arm of German auto maker BMW AG, aims to broaden the target market for its change and configuration management software with its latest offering, which goes by the name of Enablerblue. The product represents an enhancement of the company’s Maestro 2.0 package, which was set up by its automotive parent as a separate company to market and develop in 1989, according to Stewart Walker, product IT manager for the new package at Softlab in the UK. While overall company strategy is defined at Softlab’s Munich headquarters, Enablerblue was actually developed as a result of a major UK contract. This was for the development of a change and configuration management solution for EDS Inland Revenue, the outsourced IT service provider for Britain’s tax authority when it was working on a system of self-assessment for tax payers.Using its Enabler object repository, the company essentially recognized Maestro’s limitations in terms of manipulating complex configurations. Specific extensions were developed to sit atop the program for this purpose, then the whole package was re-engineered, to become Enablerblue. Furthermore, explained Walker, while the program remains generic, there are five add-ons which enable users to make it specific to their needs. To symbolize this tailoring of the basic program to specific needs, each add-on is named after a different shade of blue. Cobalt, for instance, is for mainframe management, while Aqua is for development and management in a client/server environment. Sapphire is specially adapted for web pages, Azure for IT document management, and Artic for data administration. The successor to Maestro effectively enhances the company’s previous product offering in three ways, said Walker. Firstly, it adds the functionality of handling more complex configurations and objects. Second, it simplifies the process whereby the generic product is customized to the user’s needs, and thirdly, it makes it available to a wider target market. Enablerblue plus one of the five add-ons comes to roughly half the cost of Maestro, in terms of per screen license. This means we can expand from the enterprise-wide market to specific projects, supporting small environments of, say, 10 developers, as well as 100- or 200-developer ones, explained Enablerblue’s product manager. Softlab is a limited company, and BMW has no plans to go public with it in the foreseeable future. The company turned over some DM230m ($136m) and expects to increase that by around 45% this year. Interestingly, the breakdown of sales has changed significantly over the last three years, going from a roughly 50/50 split between systems integration and software sales to around 80% for SI and 20% software today.

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