In this column, we present information gleaned from the far reaches of the BASIS community. BASIS
Customer Communications Specialist, Elizabeth Barnett, rounds up what happened with the BASIS showing at CeBIT, one of the
world's largest IT exhibitions. BASIS Technical Product Manager, Greg Grisham, tells about his visit to Bangkok, Thailand, to
help a Customer plan conversion to PRO/5® 3.xx to implement large files. And freelance writer Denise Schmitz profiles a Swiss
consulting firm and its largest end user.
BASIS Appears At CeBIT
If you made a stop at Hall 3, Stand A07, at Germany's CeBIT trade show this year, you visited BASIS International Software
GmbH, situated among 8,105 other exhibitors from 60 countries.
"All in all, it was a very successful show," says John Schroeder, BASIS Chief Technical Officer, who was at the booth
representing BASIS International Ltd. along with President George Hight. Our German subsidiary shared booth space with
personnel from three companies that work closely with BASIS GmbH and exhibited their BBx®-based solutions: Falk Spitzberg, of
BSI F Spitzberg; Peter Scholz, of Soft Service Computer GmbH; and Dr. Lothar Dietl from GfP, a German application development
With more than 8,000 exhibitors, a net display area of more than 422,000 square meters and approximately 830,000 visitors over
seven days, CeBIT is the world's leading showplace for information technology, telecommunications and office automation.
CeBIT, which stands for Centrum für Büro- und Informationstechnologie, began in 1986 as an offshoot of the Hannover Fair and
is held annually in that city in March.
Herbert Schmitz (middle), manager of BASIS International Software GmbH, discusses business solutions with visitors at the
CeBIT 2001 exhibition in Hannover, Germany.
"It is the meeting point for people in the computer business," Falk says. The BASIS contingent was able to meet and greet
existing BASIS GmbH Customers, as well as prospect for new ones.
"Not only are we pleased with the direct results, but our partner, GfP, is also delighted with the number of leads it received
from the fair, and that means new licenses for us," Herbert says. "I am very pleased with this synergy effect."
An early morning breakfast with personnel from ODS, a company specializing in turnkey ERP solutions for
metal-working manufacturing companies.
As in the U.S., interest was high concerning GUI migration and the distributed computing possibilities of BBj®. Visitors were
"quite impressed by the aspect of moving existing programs into a Web-enabled, port-independent environment, integrating new
technology in a very smooth way," Peter says. "They really see the progress."
Upgrade in Bangkok
This spring, one of our Customers that operates a chain of hypermarket (large discount) stores in east Asia visited BASIS
headquarters in Albuquerque. The company is growing dramatically and needed to know whether BASIS could support the company
through its multiple-year plan.
During the initial discussions in Albuquerque, it became clear that our Customer wanted and needed BASIS to visit the main
facility to map out a plan in detail. Shortly following that initial meeting, BASIS Software Engineer Jim Douglas and myself
found ourselves winging our way to Bangkok, and the company's headquarters.
Pagodas, or chedis, of Wat Phra Si Sanphet in the ancient
city of Ayutthaya, north of present-day Bangkok.
This Customer is anticipating roughly 300% expansion over the next five years and had enlisted the help of Accenture, the
international management and technology consulting organization formerly known as Andersen Consulting, to aid in bolstering
its systems to handle large volumes of data. The system is an IBM RS/6000 model 80, which the company plans to upgrade to a
Model 85 and expand to 12 processors. The volume of data that the current system processes is in the gigabytes, so down time
must be contained and recovery facilitated any way possible. Our Customer needed unlimited file size.
The early analysis by the Accenture consultants favored abandoning the Business BASIC file structure and migrating to an
Oracle database. The consultants evaluated a rival Business BASIC configuration writing directly to the Oracle data. The
concept was sound, but the performance was significantly slower. In addition to this, one of the company's primary goals was
to simply sustain, not rewrite, the application, which had been heavily modified over the years. Our Customer needed a
seamless conversion path.
Down time is always an issue. Common practices in the Business BASIC world generally focus on the key-chain integrity getting
damaged. Several methodologies have evolved over the years to correct this situation, but when you face gigabytes of data,
these methods are not usually production-worthy in such high-volume environments. Furthermore, it takes almost as much time to
guarantee file integrity as it does to identify what data may have been lost. Our Customer needed faster, more comprehensive
and accurate data recovery.
The BASIS solution included a conversion to PRO/5® version 3.10 for AIX. All data would also be converted to the highly
recoverable file format.
We also helped in designing a maintenance and support strategy that would anticipate problems as well as facilitate recovery.
As you can see from the photograph, we were able to visit some of the beautiful temples and countryside while we were there. But
more importantly, we had the opportunity to work directly with the consultants and the corporate information systems staff to
explain some of these ideas and develop a project plan. It was a productive visit for all involved and another example of
BASIS' commitment to working with our Customers.
Wyss Data Supplies High Tech in the Alps
If your vision of Switzerland is Alps, cow bells, lush pastures as far as you can see - then you're not keeping up with the
times. Yes, the Alps and cows are still there, but the villages now house a booming IT industry, much of it running on BASIS
Just one example is Wyss Data AG, one of the largest and most active software developers of BASIS International Software GmbH,
the Germany-based subsidiary of BASIS. Don't look for Wyss Data in a major city such as Zurich or Basle - drive for one hour
through magnificent scenery from Zurich, and there on the main street of the small village of Oensingen is Wyss Data.
Franz Wyss started his company in 1989 and now has a team of 20. Franz's diploma is in electrical engineering, so software and
hardware development was the logical step for him. His company now implements UNIX, Microsoft and Novell networks, and builds,
repairs and sells its own brand of PCs and servers. Wyss Data is also an Internet Service Provider for its Customers.
Partnerships For Development
Why is he so successful in this competitive marketplace? Franz's answer is threefold:
- The Customer is involved from the very start of the project definition phase, and Customer ideas and requests become part
of the finished product. A solution from Wyss Data is not just software and hardware correctly configured but a complete
solution including analysis, adaptation of the standard software as well as long-term support to the client.
- Wyss developers do not rewrite the software for each new client, although they itch to do this. A solution consists of
software modules making up the central kernel, with separated customization for individual Customers. This makes for easy,
- The Customer usually has his or her own conception of the type of installation desired - Novell network, UNIX server,
Windows NT. Because Wyss Data developed the software in Business BASIC, now running in PRO/5®, solutions run on every major
"An installation should be as easy as loading a CD and letting the install shield do the work," Franz says. "That's what my
Meeting The Needs Of End Users
The most important product for Wyss Data is its NOVON software suite. Wyss Data maintain the BBx®-based NOVON software suite
for Domotec, one of Wyss Data's largest Customers and one of the largest suppliers of water heaters and accompanying equipment
in Switzerland. As with so many successful applications, the specialists did all the development themselves, ensuring that the
solution does what the user requires and not vice versa.
Franz Wyss (middle), President of Wyss Data AG, discusses
NOVON suite documentation with employees. NOVON is the Swiss company's most popular software solution and runs on PRO/5®.
NOVON is the application within Domotec's rock-solid electronic data processing (EDP) system. Wyss Data supplies Domotec with
all its hardware, ensuring Domotec's system configuration is state of the art. A system administrator is responsible for a
sophisticated network with a central SCO server and additional Windows NT system. The workstation PCs access the NOVON
software suite on the SCO server, all dumb terminals now having been replaced. This allows Domotec employees the flexibility
of their application software and standard PC software directly at their workstations.
Each type of Domotec Customer has different water heating requirements. For example, a hotel needs the heating bulk in the
early morning, a school at fixed times during the day. The Domotec units are equipped with internal processors, containing the
individual programming that reflects these needs. The NOVON software stores the Customer's heating profile, downloading this
automatically into the finished unit. If the Customer's needs change, the profile is adjusted, thus guaranteeing correct
programming in the next order.
All Domotec sales employees are equipped with laptops and modems. During or following a sales visit, the salesperson enters
his or her notes into a laptop. The data is then transferred to the central SCO system, and the data files are updated
appropriately. This forms the base for sending proposals, processing orders, etc. The system also handles parts and work
orders from equipment service calls. The NOVON system capability of handling sales and parts orders overnight gives Domotec
its competitive edge.
Domotec Managing Director Roger Frey says, "We have 5,000 individual products, including all the spare parts, and we are able
to deliver overnight. This eliminates the stocking problems for our Customers, the sanitary and electrical companies."
Partners Moving Forward
Franz is currently evaluating BBj®, with a view to moving the software over to Java-based systems. Wyss Data and Domotec see
this as an area where BBj and Web browser functionality will be of great advantage.
Franz sums up Wyss Data's relationship with Domotec very nicely. "It is a pleasure to work with a company that is prepared to
invest and work to be more efficient and more successful. They entrust us with the hardware and software responsibility; we
know they are leaders in the water-heating business."
Domotec Aims to Dominate Swiss Water Heater Market
Wyss Data's largest end user, Domotec, specializes in everything to do with water heating. The headquarters and manufacturing
plant are situated in the village of Aarburg in central Switzerland. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2001, Domotec leads
in its marketplace, with over 25% of the Swiss market for water heaters.
"We are a small but extremely efficient and innovative company," says Roger Frey, Domotec Managing Director. "Our aim is make
Domotec 'The Name' for water heaters."
Domotec headquarters in Aarburg, Switzerland. Domotec is
Wyss Data's largest Customer.
Efficiency is reflected everywhere in the company. Revenues were about $11 million (U.S.) in 2000, and in 1995, Domotec
received ISO 9001 certification. Everyone knows his or her job and performs it to a maximum, supported by the Wyss Data
computer system that has grown with Domotec. The system also serves the Domotec branch office in Lausanne, which is integrated
into the network via a leased line, allowing the workforce in Lausanne direct access to headquarter UNIX and NT servers.