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New Challenges on the Horizon

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was getting ready to change jobs, and I wanted to say a little more about that now. Today I now toil by day for < color="#003399">Progress Software, a developer of a fine database management system and business development language, along with lifecycle tools supporting application development and management using that database.

When I was considering the job, I queried several acquaintances about Progress. The answer almost invariably came back, "Oh, yes—the database that doesn't require administration, and doesn't go down." That must have been a difficult reputation to achieve, and I'm looking forward to finding out how we did it and continuing the tradition.

Even more so, I'm very much looking forward to helping navigate a relatively minor but still growing platform through a minefield of Java and Microsoft applications and standards. Progress has the distinction among public technology companies of exhibiting double-digit revenue growth for each of the last eight fiscal quarters. That fact played a significant role in my joining the company. Continued career growth is difficult to come by these days, but the chances of increasing responsibility and new challenges are immeasurably better at a growing company.

The primary buyer of Progress database and application development technology is the "application partner," typically a small software company that targets a vertical industry, such as manufacturing, retail, or health care. These vendors, who might not always be on technology's cutting edge but do understand their customers' needs very well, build applications that target these industries.

But those end-user customers are increasingly questioning the need to include yet another application platform into their IT mix. What, after all, does Progress do that can't be done in Java or .NET? That is where some of the distinctive competencies of my new employer fit in. Many of the customers who use Progress applications don't have a DBA or even an IT department, and a database that doesn't require administration is much more important than using one of the more established platforms.

I'm not writing any of this to promote my new employer. Rather, it's instructive to me to see how a third platform can possibly fit into an enterprise dominated by one or both of the others. We use both Java and .NET in our own development efforts, and with a maturing service-oriented architecture strategy manage to play well with components built using either. One of my tasks is to define and help drive a strategy for enabling developers to use Progress technology in conjunction with a variety of different approaches to building user interfaces, a topic I will speak on at the upcoming Software Architecture Summit in February.

And it is a bonus for me to be able to join fellow industry thought leaders Dave Chappell of Sonic Software and Chris Keene of Persistence. Sonic is wholly owned by Progress, while Persistence was recently acquired by ObjectStore, the descendant of two of the object-oriented database pioneers and now a division of Progress. While my professional focus is changing from developer quality and performance tools to application development lifecycle across a single platform, I anticipate continued technical challenges and further career growth over the coming years.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 12/26/2004

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