Netherlands software developer Uniface BV, now owned by Farmington Hills, Michigan-based Compuware Corp, has launched a European diagnosis service to help users to migrate away from their legacy systems and towards a client-server environment based on the company’s development tools. At the heart of the programme is that solid old-fashioned diagnostic mechanism, the questionnaire. Users wanting to migrate their legacy systems to Uniface have to fill in a form about their present systems and send it back to the company, which in turn sends back a brief assessment of the main factors that would be involved in the migration. Thus far, the service – named Rapid Migration Audit – is free, but beyond this phase it begins to cost money, as Uniface then starts charging consultancy fees for more detailed assessment of individual customers’ needs, and, of course, for the migration process itself. The company says that such a programme is needed because large organisations moving into client-server computing are continuing to underestimate the development effort involved in migrating corporate applications. Uniface reckons that about 80% of an application will, on average, transfer to a client-server system: the problem is trying to identify in advance the 20% that will not. The questionnaires being used by Uniface have already been tried out by the company’s professional services division on a couple of corporate customers. It is impossible to automate the process, says Uniface, because there are so many different factors involved in looking at different company’s existing systems, so it is a manual process so far for its seven full-time UK consultants. Uniface adds that although the problems of migration apply to customers on both sides of the Atlantic, this particular programme is so far being rolled out in Europe only, with Compuware in the US handling its own professional services.
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