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Living Legacies

Mincron Software Systems Modernizes its Applications Using RAMP from LANSA

MSS’s Greg Johnson (left), team leader for new technology, and Greg Neal, director of product development, recently upgraded their company’s UIs. Photography by Todd Spoth

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Customer: Mincron Software Systems
Headquarters: Houston
Business: Develops ERP solutions for wholesale hard-goods distributors
Challenge: Keep its legacy RPG code relevant in a competitive market
Solution: Uses RAMP from LANSA to improve application interfaces and extend functionality
Hardware: Power Systems technology running IBM i
Software: RAMP from LANSA

In today’s disposable consumer market, old is often perceived as bad. With the advent of CDs, for example, everyone rushed to replace their vinyl and cassette recordings, believing a digital format was superior to analog. That is, except for the audiophile purists who, to this day, rummage through record bins. Some companies view their green-screen applications in the same light, as a gray-mare technology that must be replaced—especially in the face of newer UIs, software and devices. But should they? Not according to Mincron Software Systems (MSS).

In response to increased calls for improved interfaces and greater Windows* integration, MSS has been busy revitalizing its legacy applications, realizing that every line of code represents years of collective developer knowledge built upon time-tested and proven business solutions. To that end, the company has been using LANSA’s RAMP application-modernization toolset to give its customers what they want while leveraging decades of work.

Although MSS is an ISV and has a marketing stake in modernizing applications, its success proves that even in-house developers can—and maybe should—view legacy code for what it is: a strong foundation on which they can propel their businesses into the future, proving that “old” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “bad."


A Great Deal

MSS has been in business since 1979, originally offering software-consulting services in the New York area. In 1983, it extended its business reach into software development with a wholesale/distribution ERP solution. Since moving to Houston in 1989, the company has dramatically grown its customer base to include Fortune 500 companies and small to midsize businesses across the U.S. and Canada.

Its products, which include MSS/HD (Hardgoods Distribution), MSS/LM (Light Manufacturing) and MSS/WM (Warehouse Management), are geared toward the hard-goods wholesale distribution industry, according to Greg Neal, MSS’s director of product development. “That would include customers who distribute nonperishable products to markets such as the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, pipe/valve/fitting, and industrial products markets, among others.”

The flagship MSS/HD assists the company’s customers with accounts receivable and payable, general ledger, sales-order entry, purchasing, inventory control and pricing. About the only things it doesn’t do are payroll and human resources. Its other products, MSS/LM and MSS/WM, do essentially what their names imply, helping companies manage both manufacturing and warehousing.

Notably, MSS provides its customers with all of the source code for its products, which run exclusively on IBM Power Systems* technology running IBM i. As Neal explains, “No packaged solutions are a complete,

100 percent fit for every organization. So instead of having our customers wait until we come out with new releases that may contain some functionality that might have been missing in a previous release, we allow our customers to make changes as they see fit. Often, though, those customers will feed their modifications back to us so we can add them into our official releases. This is a great deal for everyone.” Because the MSS solutions run on Power Systems servers, the company has its own, hosting three LPARs. One is for primary development; another for training, education and sales demonstrations; and the third for remote connections, which acts as a secured gateway for communications from MSS to its customers.

“I would venture to say that it's nearly impossible for software companies to survive much longer by marketing green-screen solutions.” —Greg Neal, director of product development, MSS

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.

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