The frenzied buying activity of Morino Associates Inc in its home country late last year is just starting to show benefits over here, with minority held Business Software Technology Inc in town the other day to launch its ‘change control’ products in Europe, distributed by Morino. BST sold under 10% of its equity to Morino last November for around $1.2m a deal that came about from temporary dabblings in the consultancy market by BST around the Morino speciality of performance measurement. BST wanted to be able to prove to its customers that change control gives better performance, and from there on the overlap was obvious. Like many new US terms that haven’t caught on here yet, change control has come about from someone having to sit and listen to user complaints until he felt he had to go out and do something about it. In this case it was the vice president of development and customer support at Cullinet Software Inc, Nick Rini, and the new term is change control. Rini says that something like 70% of all production system failures come about because someone has changed a piece of software. He has no statistics, but that’s his gut feel. If companies could change their applications with some degree of confidence, making sure that each change was authorised, even planned, and tested fully before allowed to influence the mainframe production environment, then many of these system failures could be prevented. Rini is now the president of BST, having gone out with this idea, found a company involved in the area (Condor Technology); bought its assets with venture finance, and proceeded to launch advanced versions for database and fourth generation environments.
Manual procedures and pray
Every data processing professional is familiar with the problem, but most sites install rigid manual procedures and pray that unauthorised, untested amendments to programs never get into the same partition as corporation-critical CICS code. While some operating systems such as Unix feature utilities which keep track of source code, Rini has yet to meet one that has gone so far as to provide a built-in management system for maintenance, including full security. The growth of the company from first shipments of the product in early 1987, to $8m turnover for the last 12 months testifies that there’s a pent-up desire for more automated management tools in source code maintenance; and Rini adds a number of other ideas for the product’s use. Software houses (such as Morino) could offer a subset of the product with each new release of their packages, so that customers don’t have to reconfigure the new version from scratch, and can instead build a full audit trail of the changes they made last time, and just re-implement in the new version. Software houses could also just give it to their development teams to keep track of their sole resource, source code. MSA, Cullinet, Morino, Candle and Compuware are some of the big software house names that suggest this route has worked out. Other uses to which BST’s tools have been put include keeping track of fourth generation language parameterisations, and configuration information on complex packages such as big manufacturing requirements planning systems. BST’s Endevor-C1 for non-database environments comes for UKP64,500; Endevor DB available only for IDMS database applications (a DB2 version is in development, comes for UKP57,500. All versions interface to security products RACF, ACF II and Top Secret for extra safe authorisation of changes.