Open Systems, Inc., in Shakopee, MN, develops accounting software and business applications for small- to
medium-sized businesses, making the necessary technology choices to keep their application software convenient, competitive,
and current. Their flagship application, OPEN SYSTEMS Accounting Software (OSAS), is the ideal solution for users of one or
more of these operating systems: Windows, Linux, UNIX, MAC, AIX, or Solaris. OSAS is one of a few major accounting software
suites in its market category to run on the Linux and Mac platforms. Visit them online at www.osas.com.
olid business planning helps shape and direct a company's future. That most certainly is the case at Open Systems, Inc. (OSI).
Beginning in 1976, Open Systems' founding programmers wrote fundamental accounting packages for a Cado environment, and later
packaged it for other companies such as Rexon. As the new PC world began to surface in the early 1980s, OSI saw great
potential in this environment for their accounting applications. Though the industry was filled with many operating system
fragmentations and unique versions of DOS, they discovered Business BASIC and its ability to port to many platforms. As a
result, OSI wrote their first Business BASIC version of their OPEN SYSTEMS® Accounting Software (OSAS®) application in
Control C Corporation's Business BASIC, then eventually in SMC Thoroughbred, to offer additional platform flexibility.
"We are excited about the OSAS 7.0 product on the BBj platform. We believe that the BBj language brings the OSAS product line
and our reseller channel not only new exciting technology for our existing clients, but also opens up the door for many new
growth market opportunities."
Michael Bertini, CEO
By the mid 80s, the newly formed BASIS International Ltd. introduced Business BASIC eXtended (BBx®) with even greater
portability and extended utilities and features, as the name implies. OSAS quickly moved to BBx and began their longstanding
relationship with BASIS. Dave Link, Vice President of OSAS Product Development, says, "BASIS brought us a much more robust
suite and a one-stop shop with a lot more ports on various platforms. Where we used to have to use various vendors to support
all the platforms, BASIS supported the ones that were important to us at the time."" Before long, GUI technology emerged, so
naturally OSI joined the graphical world by upgrading to Visual PRO/5®.
As the success of OSAS grew, OSI continued to look to the future for new and rising technology. Their management team saw the
need to enhance the architecture and technology behind the product in order to move forward to the next generation's
technology. They felt the world was moving to Java for greater portability and Internet connectivity. Coincidentally, BASIS
saw Java in their future as well, and began planning their next BBx generation BBj®, the "re-named" Java-based BBx
PROGRESSION/6. With mutual interest in the future technology, OSAS began meeting with BASIS' development staff and senior
engineers, as early as 6 years ago, to look closely at the direction BASIS was going and to see if their futures continued to
Though OSI invested their OSAS product heavily in BBx technology, they kept options open to investigate other possible
solutions. If they had to migrate their millions of lines of code to a non-BASIS language, they would meet the challenge of
this daunting task. They were in search of the best solution with the greatest potential.
The more they investigated other Business BASICs and other platforms, the more obvious it became that BASIS was their perfect
fit. BBj was, by far, the best solution for many reasons. First, and most obvious, was the seamless growth path from Visual
PRO/5®, allowing them to leverage their existing technology and their own legacy code. BBj also allowed OSI to continue
offering their customers support on multiple platforms; platform portability continued to be key. The list of supported
platforms included two new ones Mac OS X (see Figure 1) and GUI Linux and opened up an exciting new
Figure 1. OSAS 7.0 running on the Mac OS X
With the choice made, and the work ahead, OSI began the migration of their millions of line of code across 17 products in
their application suite. Dave shares that excluding the enhancements to the software, they had very little work to do and
their code changes were minimal. He explains, "We already made many changes in the code to accommodate the graphical world, so
mostly we had to write code for the new features we added to the software, and some minor modifications for syntax changes and
the minor differences between BBx and BBj. We included a number of new features." He continues, "For the most part, the
changes required were pretty straightforward. And you guys [BASIS] have been great to work with, helping us through the
process and getting us to a point where we have a deliverable product to offer."
On schedule, OSI released OSAS version 7.0 this past September for controlled distribution with general release to follow in
30-60 days. This new generation of OSAS offers more flexible deployment than before, 3-tier architecture, enhanced
connectivity to the ODBC/JDBC, and Web services.
How have OSI's customers responded? Dave explains, "We have been building up to this for 2-3 years, notifying the channel
it is coming, preparing them for the move to the new technology. There is a great deal of excitement about the new user
interface that takes advantage of the MDI control, and the jump to Java that opens the doors to great connectivity
options." With this notice of the forthcoming new technology, customers got a head start on their learning curve. OSI
provided many opportunities for hands-on and tele-training to help customers learn about the new installation paradigm, learn
how to optimize system settings, and understand more about networking.
Paul Lundquist, Vice President of Sales, recently traveled the country to present OSAS 7.0 to thousands of customers during
OSI executive briefings. Paul reports that "Indications are the adoption rate [of 7.0] will hit an all-time high. We expect
this product will be a significant part of our 40% growth projection for 2005/2006." Paul continues, "BBj enlarges our pie as
we can now offer a packaged accounting solution for the Mac and Linux desktop where one just did not exist before."
Deploying BASIS' largest domestic BBj application, Dave shares this brotherly advice to other developers "If you have taken a
look at older versions of BBj such as 1.0 or 2.0 and haven't decided to move in that direction, take another look at revision
5 or 6. I see a lot of performance improvements, overall enhancements to the product. Migrating is a process ... it is not
automatic, but with help from the BASIS team, you are really not alone, it is a partnership destined for success."
During their solid history that even pre-dates BASIS, OSI's single largest investment continues to be their intellectual
property. Considering this investment and the sheer size of their installation base, their future looks very bright with BBj.
This newest generation of BBx will certainly extend their growth and market share far into the future, creating an even
greater return on their solid investment in BASIS technology.