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BCD Professional Services Group Gears Up for 2009

Development Tools / Utilities
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Business Computer Design, Int'l., Inc. (BCD) reported this week it is seeing an increased amount of activity by its Professional Services Group (www.bcdsoftware.com/services/) and the company expects that trend to continue throughout 2009. BCD's Professional Services Group specializes in developing new custom IBM i Web applications and modernizing existing green-screen applications.

Factors influencing greater demand for BCD services include the addition of IBM i PHP Web application development services using WebSmart PHP, and services to modernize existing IBM i green-screen applications using Presto, BCD's IBM i Web enablement tool, the company said. A video version of this press release on BCD's new professional services offerings can be viewed at http://www.bcdsoftware.com/ibmiservices/pr/video.

PHP Web Development on the IBM i

PHP interest continues to grow at a strong pace in the IBM i community, and that has led to an increase in PHP Web development services, according to BCD. In addition to WebSmart ILE, BCD offers WebSmart PHP, which was released in May 2007.

"We've already completed numerous PHP-based projects using WebSmart PHP," says Kevin Cronin, director of BCD's Professional Services Group. "WebSmart PHP extends our reach beyond development on the IBM i to other platforms. It integrates directly with IBM i DB2 and MySQL and facilitates development in a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) environment," he says. WebSmart PHP is a rapid Web application development tool for creating System i and multi-platform PHP Web applications and is used by the BCD Professional Services Group to deliver PHP applications s quickly and efficiently.

According to Cronin, "The transition from ILE CGI development to PHP has been easy for our developers. Conceptually, the development process is much the same; the WebSmart IDE is common to both environments. Several team members had prior experience with PHP. Their in-depth knowledge of HTML, JavaScript and other Web technologies transferred directly to PHP development using WebSmart. Using PHP also allows our developers to take advantage of thousands of available functions.

Recently, we completed a project using PHP functions to create a PDF on-the-fly and then email it to the client as part of a Web application for a large transport company. This type of functionality would not be possible with an RPG CGI program."

5250 Application Modernization

Presto, BCD's rapid green-screen modernization tool, was unveiled in June 2008. Presto has generated a huge response, the company notes. Based on the number of downloads, high enrollment in Webinars, and new sales, BCD expects 2009 to be a very active year. Customers looking for a complete solution that includes modernizing existing green-screen applications have hired BCD Professional Services.

The group's in-depth knowledge of HTML and JavaScript makes it easy for team members to add new functionality that Web enables green-screen applications. This ability is enhanced by using Presto to include such things as: links, images, Google Maps, Flash charts and graphs, and drop-down boxes. The team routinely uses AJAX to call data from other servers.

This adds significant value to the modernized application while retaining a significant part of the original code. For some organizations, refacing existing applications is currently a better fit because of the smaller investment required compared to rewriting them. Using WebSmart PHP, the company can still reuse the back-end RPG logic.

The Economic Advantages of Using Services

Current economic conditions have forced many organizations to curtail any new hiring initiatives, and in many cases, to cut back on staffing.

This has put pressure on IT departments to deliver new projects as well as accurately estimate costs. Hiring BCD's Professional Services Team to develop custom Web applications has alleviated these challenges for many of our clients. The services team is able to react with rapid development and deployment of new applications without clients having to hire full-time staff members or incur overhead for the developer. Ellery Soifer, IT manager for Tricots Liesse, sums it up as follows: "BCD allows me to get my app developed and work with their programmers so that I'm able to maintain and enhance the programs. This represents a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time Web developer."

Development shops across virtually all industries are straining under expanding workloads, accelerated deadlines, and ongoing budget cuts. Management and stakeholders are growing less patient and want to minimize delays in getting new systems online.

"While WebSmart development tools are easy for IBM i developers to use, many organizations simply don't have the time or staff to do the development work," says Cronin. "Our team is often contracted to develop an initial, time-sensitive application. After that application is rolled out, we facilitate the knowledge transfer so our clients can maintain and enhance the application moving forward," he says. "The code base and documentation provided helps clients maintain the applications and can be used as a framework for new development," he says.

Another factor that contributes to BCD's success in the services arena can be attributed to its ability to accurately assess the scope of a project before any agreements are executed, according to the company. "Software development estimates are notoriously inaccurate," says Cronin. "We work with our clients up-front to establish a detailed specification for their project. This service allows us to clearly determine the scope of the project. As any experienced developer will tell you, estimating development time and costs is not always easy to do. I'm pleased to say that we have established a very good track record based on the experience we've gained, and the number of projects we've completed over the years."

Services Overview

BCD's Professional Services engagements are managed remotely with developers typically accessing client's servers using a VPN connection. By eliminating travel expenses, customers save thousands of dollars. Also, by handling projects remotely, the company's developers have access to numerous resources that greatly improve efficiency. "We have delivered services in this manner for several years now, which has proven to be very effective," adds Cronin.

Aside from handling complete projects, BCD Professional Services Group can also help clients with jump-start projects and work in tandem with their staffs. In many instances, when final systems are delivered, many clients chose to take over the maintenance going forward. To expedite a smooth project transition for clients, BCD uses a structured knowledge transfer methodology. The team provides a variety of professional services including:

• Building new IBM i or multi-platform Web applications

• Web enabling existing green-screen applications and adding new functions

• Establishing portals, dashboards, and Web reports

• Training staff on BCD products and in PHP development

For questions about BCD Professional Services, the company's application modernization solutions, or PHP Web application development, contact BCD at (630) 986-0800. A video describing BCD's professional services offerings can be viewed at http://www.bcdsoftware.com/iseries400services/Webconsultants/.

More information may be obtained by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 630-986-0800.

About BCD

BCD is one of the most successful modernization tool providers in the IBM i marketplace, and has garnered the respect and recognition of top-level executives at IBM. Since its inception, BCD has stayed focused on the needs of users of the IBM i and multi-platform communities. BCD has received more than 35 industry awards, including 13 software excellence awards for WebSmart. The company has more than 30 years of experience in the IBM midrange marketplace. More than 30,000 copies of its software solutions have been licensed worldwide by more than 10,000 organizations. BCD is a charter member of the IBM i ISV Advisory Council and an IBM Advanced Business Partner. BCD offers unparalleled technical support. BCD's Professional Services Group develops a wide range of PHP and ILE RPG browser-based applications, including B2B and e-commerce Web sites.

Business Computer Design (BCD)

BCD is a Quadrant Software company and one of the most successful software organizations in the IBM i marketplace. The companies have a combined 60 years in the IBM i marketplace and have successfully helped thousands of organizations worldwide modernize. Together, Quadrant and BCD help customers maximize their investment in IBM i with their industry leading web development, mobilization, spool file beautification and document distribution tools. Their customers and partners around the world are leaders in key markets such as finance, manufacturing, transportation, retail and healthcare.
Quadrant and BCD are part of the Quadrant group of companies that also includes Netlert, which develops an Avaya call center performance analysis solution, and SoftBase, which provides application testing and tuning solutions for IBM's DB2 database utilizing the OS/390 and z/OS operating systems.
For more information, please visit http://www.bcdsoftware.com
and http://www.quadrantsoftware.com.




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