Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the July 25, 2001

edition of U.S. 1

Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Ramco’s Interchangeable Blocks

If the software industry had a Holy Grail, it might

be the method for writing code in interchangeable airtight blocks.

Take away one building block, fix it, and put it back — and

guarantee

to do that without affecting the rest of the program. It’s called

"componentization." If you can structure the components of

a software program in this way, so the thinking goes, you can turn

on a dime to react to business change.

"In a climate of mergers and spinoffs, that is the biggest

challenge

for any IT company, to be able to change the business processes as

the company reinvents itself," says Parameswar Subramanian, head

of U.S. operations for Ramco Systems Corp. He believes

RamcoVirtualWorks

(RVM), can do this componentization. It has workbenches for capturing

the business processes of a company and developing applications.

Ramco Systems Corporation has relocated its 50-person United States

headquarters to 6,000 square feet at Crossroads Corporate Center.

It does software package development and sales for enterprise planning

and asset management solutions. Together with regional offices in

Connecticut, Chicago, Texas, and California, there are 175 employees

in North America. More than 1,500 employees operate in North America,

Europe, and Asia. It works in such areas as enterprise resource

planning,

E-asset management, and human resource management, and it provides

services in consulting, network security, real-time solutions, and

implementing customer relationship management products.

Subramanian points with pride to Ramco’s partnership with Boeing,

which will use RVW to develop Enterprise 1 aircraft maintenance

software.

"We will help them develop, implement, and maintain it while they

take care of the marketing and the branding, and we hope to do this

in several other industry segments," he says. "The service

revenue accrues to us."

Ramco’s 600-pound gorilla competitor is SAP, based in Germany but

with many offices in the United States. "In terms of the

technology

I feel we are more nimble," Subramanian says. He points out that

Ramco’s offshore software development in India is more cost effective.

"The bigger you get," he says, "the less you are working

from the user’s perspective. We try to find what the user wants. We

have the ability to take your business logic and translate that into

software. If you want to sell our product to your customers in your

industry, we will develop and maintain the software while you sell

it."

Ramco Systems Corp. belongs to the Ramco Group, a $300 million

conglomerate

that was founded in 1938 as a textile company and now manufactures

surgical cotton and cement as well. Until 1993 Ramco Systems had been

the IT division of the conglomerate and is now a $15 million

stand-alone

company. Ramco is located in India in Chennai (pronounced

"chen-eye"

meaning "a beautiful coastline"), also known by its British

name, Madras.

In addition to clients in the aviation industry, Ramco serves the

process industries (such as Sunkist), fleet maintenance (helicopters),

breweries, and agriculture. It also provides service solutions for

dotcom companies, AT&T, and Lucent Technologies. Its flagship product

is Ramco E-applications.

Subramanian, who prefers to be known as "Param,"

is an engineering graduate of Madras University, Class of 1977, and

has a master’s in management degree from Xavier Institute in northern

India. He came to this office in April. He and his wife, who has not

yet moved to Lawrenceville, have a 15-year-old daughter and an

11-year-old

son.

Subrata Kar, the director of marketing services, grew up in Calcutta

and majored in computer science at the University of London, Class

of 1986. He had most recently worked in Chennai. He and his wife live

in Plainsboro and have a school-age son.

"RVW is more than a toolset," says Kar. As a platform with

its own architecture RVW gives software developers a framework to

design and build business components and integrate them into an

enterprise

system — all in real time. What makes this different from other

products, says Kar, is that it has a built-in software development

methodology. "With its automation, it will reduce time to

market."

For instance, a sales application involves processing orders,

shipping,

invoicing, pricing, and managing customers. The goal is to develop

and integrate each of these components without making changes in the

overall program. "Our current enterprise resource planning

product,

to be completely Internet-enabled, will be based on RamcoVirtualWorks,

and we can also develop customized applications using the same

workbench,"

says Kar.

"In a typical IT environment, there is no documentation available

and people are afraid to change a program," says Subramanian.

"But given a choice, companies might like to migrate an

application

to a new technology. Anybody can do web enabling but we do one step

further. With VirtualWorks, it is possible to have the legacy

application

on one side and new applications on the other, and work in integrated

fashion, allowing the customer to migrate to a new technology."

"First we web-enable the existing application," says

Subramanian.

"Then we integrate it with other applications and do the data

transfer. Then we migrate the application on the main frame to a newer

technology."

"The concept of componentization is nothing new," he says,

"and a lot of people have tried it, but it is a moving target.

The tools available to use it have never been there."

— Barbara Fox

Ramco Systems Corp., 3150 Brunswick Pike, Suite

100, Crossroads Corporate Center, Lawrenceville 08648. Kamesh

Ramamoorthy,

president. 609-620-4800; fax, 609-620-4860. Home page:

www.ramco.com


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