REVIEWER: Kenneth Dorsey, chief technology officer for Integrated Warehousing Solutions.

BACKGROUND: Integrated Warehousing Solutions, LLC develops, implements and supports the Inventory Resource Management System (IRMS) Warehouse Management System, allowing customers to improve the performance of their businesses with an integrated supply chain solution. Today, several hundred customers use their software and rely on their logistics consulting, project management, systems integration, installation, training and ongoing support to increase productivity, fulfillment accuracy and improve customer satisfaction.

PLATFORMS: Dell PowerEdge, Sun UltraSparc II, Compaq ProLiant, IBM Netfinity, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Sun Solaris, IBM AIX 4.3, SCO OpenServer and Red Hat Linux 6.2.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As an independent software vendor (ISV) of Progress, Integrated Warehousing Solutions (IWS) is faced with an overcrowded and competitive marketplace for its solution. To differentiate itself, IWS must constantly update its business logic and prevent internal cost-of-operation overruns. With its unique agility, the Progress OpenEdge platform is designed specifically to write business logic as distinguished from user interface logic, making Progress applications available as licensed clients, Web services or other future incarnations of user interface that will benefit from reusability. Relying on Progress Software's channel strategy, the OpenEdge platform incorporates feedback from businesses successfully deploying Progress-based applications.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The OpenEdge development environment allows whole screens to be composed in minutes instead of hours, re- allocating time for driving the quality of the business logic. The WebSpeed browser environment that is part of the OpenEdge platform allows developers to leave their desks and take their whole environment with them into the field where they can benefit from exposure to the operational business models for which they are coding. The Progress RDBMS, also part of the OpenEdge platform, is unparalleled in its ability to run optimally for quarters at a time without daily or even weekly human intervention. The "embedded database" is such an overwhelming technology breakthrough that most IT executives have trouble believing that a mission-critical software application with hundreds or thousands of simultaneous users can operate for years without a full-time DBA.

STRENGTHS: The strengths of the Progress OpenEdge platform include its functionality (as previously mentioned), cost per value, development agility and platform independence.

WEAKNESSES: In software, speed of deployment generally comes with a commensurate decrease in flexibility or breadth of choice. The Progress GUI widget selection is more limited than some other UI packages that are available. In the current release (9.1C) of OpenEdge, all the Web services-compliant components are present, but their presentation to the developer is not unified or even all that apparent.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Total cost of ownership is a major factor in selection of Progress OpenEdge. It is less expensive to run a software house with OpenEdge. A single product that can deploy on a dozen platforms requires one team and a small group of platform specialists. A product in a more proprietary technology needs to be built in several foundations to cover the same range, duplicating the entire product overhead for each iteration and driving up the costs.

DELIVERABLES: The 4GL component of OpenEdge allows us to claim our entire application as a deliverable. OpenEdge also extends to the Internet through WebSpeed, which has allowed us to enable vendor managed inventory by reusing the same business logic components deployed to Web browsers as the client. Progress' native integration with CorVu provides an entire prepackaged set of KPIs, reports, graphic analyses and executive alerts that provide OLAP delivery of answers to any decision-maker's key business questions.

VENDOR SUPPORT: With Progress Software's distinctive channel model, the majority of their product licenses are sold to the end customer through ISVs. Progress has invested vast resources on developing, nurturing and optimizing their channels through continual education. They have developed programs through which their ISVs can continually learn to fully utilize the Progress environment, such as Business Empowerment Centers, the POSSE network and the Progress Developer Network.

DOCUMENTATION: Integrated Warehousing Solutions is fully independent because of the strength of the OpenEdge documentation. Every component and every administrative task is documented with keyword indexing and with clear, reusable examples.

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