Rocket Software Focuses on Next-Generation MultiValue Development

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Rocket Software's DBMS and Application Servers division is now being led by Gary Gregory, vice president and general manager. Housed within the business unit is Rocket MultiValue, which includes the UniData and UniVerse (U2) and D3 MultiValue product lines, as well as the M204 family of mainframe products, which Gregory had previously directed.  This division is the largest within Rocket, said Gregory, who came on board 2 years ago when the company he founded, Sirius Software, was acquired by Rocket.

Substantial R&D Base

This size enables a few things, Gregory said. For starters, the division now has an even more substantial R & D base to build on in order to accelerate the pace of development for MultiValue products and features in order to build the tooling that customers require to modernize their applications, he said.

Currently, within just the MultiValue sector there are 18 to 20 distinct products, including MultiValue databases and tools.

“We look at it as a complete platform – it is the database and it’s a language environment. It is all the web tooling. Everything you need to write an application is within our product sets. The flexibility of the data model and schema is the strength of the technology that has enabled so many of our customers to build great applications,” said Gregory.

Rocket is adapting a number of the products it has built for relational systems to also serve the needs of the MultiValue marketplace, expanding the product line within the Rocket DBMS and Applications Servers division even further.  Citing examples of this approach, Gregory pointed to the R/Link product for secure file sharing, as well as Aldon Lifecycle Manager, an application that covers change management activities and application lifecycle management.

Rocket will continue to add to the product sets in the future. “We are in the middle of setting our 3-year plan now,” said Gregory.  The synergy between the D3 labs and U2 labs provides complementary capabilities, said Gregory. “The company is effectively increasing the amount of power we have in the development group, and so things that we would not have been willing to pursue, or felt that we didn’t have the resources to pursue, are now possibilities on our planning horizon.”  Overseeing the labs are Vinnie Smith, managing director of R&D, Rocket U2 Lab; and John Bramley, managing director of R&D, Rocket D3 Lab.

New Rocket U2 Products

In terms of new U2 products on the horizon, said Smith, Rocket is now finalizing UniData 8.1 “which is probably the biggest leap forward that we have had in about a decade for UniData.” The product is expected to be released by around the end of this year.

The release introduces 64-bit files, said Smith, emphasizing that the actual underlying file structures have been re-architected to support 64-bit. “This improves performance and removes the 2 Gb file limits that we have had.”

The new release also provides BASIC language improvements with capabilities such as local scoping, which customers have requested to improve code readability and reuse.

“We are also introducing account-based licensing so that customers that want to take advantage of something like a SaaS offering will be able to have a form of multitenancy by having multiple accounts individually licensing without constraints. That, combined with other features that were in the previous UniVerse 11.2 release, make UniData 8.1 a very exciting product to bring to market,” said Smith.

On the tools side, he added, the company is also finishing enhancements to the U2 Web Development environment. “Our SB/XA and U2 Web DE tools will be exposed via REST services. This will allow them to play nicely in the web and the mobile worlds where customers want to expose their existing components or artifacts and access them via REST.”

In addition, he said, Rocket recently introduced a MultiValue native query version of CorVu NG business intelligence product which gives CorVu a better interface into U2 and a deeper understanding of the MultiValue data structure and dictionary. “This means customers don’t have to change their underlying structures; they can just go directly into that data.”

Rocket is also moving forward on U2 support for the popular Python programming language, said Smith. “Last year, with we did an initial proof of concept with UniVerse and Python where we integrated the Python engine so that you could call UniVerse, or from UniVerse, you could call the Python packages,” said Smith. Following that success, UniData support for Python is now in beta and after general availability, will be followed by a UniVerse beta with Python support.

Within the Rocket MultiValue leadership team is also John Mathieu, who is managing director of Worldwide Sales, and Simon Caddick, director of Partner Enablement.

In addition, Michael Byrne has joined the team as MultiValue product evangelist to cultivate the grass-roots community-level involvement. Byrne is presenting a series of one-day MV Tech Days focused on U2 in October and November “to show customers how quickly you can go from green screen to web to mobile and everything in between,” said Gregory. He is also planning a similar round of MV Tech Days for 2015 focused on the D3 products.

Investment in Quality and Quality Assurance

In tandem with the flurry of activity on the product front, Rocket is simultaneously “making a significant investment in quality and quality assurance [led by Robert Burke, director, Worldwide Support and QA, Rocket MultiValue] to make sure that we are ready to do the aggressive development that we plan to do” and “looking at how we can reliably increase our pace,” said Gregory.

Looking ahead, the two key words for Rocket MultiValue are “modernization” and “acceleration,” said Gregory.  “That is what we want to do – and continuous quality improvement is something we must have to enable those two objectives.”