Looking for a way to kick-start new versions of its Systems Engineer product, Learmonth & Burchett Management Systems Plc has struck a deal with Ipsys Software Plc, enabling Learmonth to zoom into the Unix market with an SSADM – Structured System & Design Methodology – computer-aided software engineering tool. The deal is good news for […]
Looking for a way to kick-start new versions of its Systems Engineer product, Learmonth & Burchett Management Systems Plc has struck a deal with Ipsys Software Plc, enabling Learmonth to zoom into the Unix market with an SSADM – Structured System & Design Methodology – computer-aided software engineering tool. The deal is good news for Ipsys, which is trying hard to raise its profile in the commercial sector. The agreement will be worth around UKP500,000 per year to Ipsys to begin with and is likely to increase in value as the years go on – Ipsys will collect a royalty on every Learmonth tool set sold and will profit from Learmonth’s use of the Tool Builder’s Kit among its clients. Ipsys sprang out of Thorn EMI’s Software Sciences in a management buyout last year (CI No 1,314). The company now has a turnover of UKP1.6m (of which around 50% comes from abroad) and is set to make a nice profit at the end of this its first year of trading. The company’s main product is Tool Builder’s Kit which is described as a second generation software engineering tool similar to Systematica’s Virtual Software Factory. Learmonth is using the Kit to build versions of Systems Engineer. Ipsys sales director John Lewis says that the Kit is capable of rolling out Learmonth products within three months. Ipsys was already working on an SSADM v.4 tool, but Learmonth wanted to offer a version of System Engineer to support SSADM v.3 first, since, according to Lewis, it felt that it would be too big a move for a personal computer-based product to go straight to v.4. Learmonth’s SSADM v.3 for Unix will be available by November, with SSADM v.4 following at the beginning of 1991. As part of the deal, a Unix tool supporting the Jackson System Development method will also be available early next year. Learmonth, of course, following its close relationship with, and subsequent acquisition of, Michael Jackson Ltd, has a lot of Jackson users among its clients. Ipsys won the Learmonth contract against competition from Systematica. Lewis has a great deal of respect for Systematica, which has a two year start ahead of Ipsys in the market. He is particularly proud of the fact that US companies are not yet present in the metatool market, and says that both Systematica and Ipsys are in world-beating positions.
Despite the fact that Systematica has won deals with Cognos Inc, Information Builders Inc and Informix Software Inc, Ipsys says that these were all deals struck before it entered the market and claims that it has not yet lost out to Systematica in a bid situation. So far, aside from its agreement with Learmonth, Ipsys has found its way into British Telecommunications Plc, a major anonymous systems house, and the Eurofighter project. Furthermore, Lewis says that there are some sweet US deals coming down the pipeline. Ironically, at a time when the computer industry is increasingly being standardised, Lewis maintains that the advent of tools such as Virtual Software Factory and Tool Builder’s Kit means that the world will move away from standard methodologies like SSADM, Yourdan and Jackson. He says that many systems require elements from different methodologies to work well, and that users do not want to have to deal with two or more separate methods. With metatools they can combine methods. One good example of this is the way Tool Builder’s Kit is being used in the Eurofighter project where Control Requirement Expression is being used for the front end of the system, Yourdan for the middle part and HOOD for the back end. Lewis claims that such systems were impossible to build in the days before Virtual Software Factory and Tool Builder’s Kit. So confident is he that metatools are the way of the future that he is predicting that Ipsys will grow to have a turnover of UKP25m within five years. – Katy Ring