Feature

Progress simply makes it easy for everyone

In the Computer Weekly/SSL list of top IT skills, Progress is number 67.

What is it?

Progress is a relational database and development environment. It is mainly used by independent software suppliers to build applications.

However, the same characteristics that appeal to suppliers - low maintenance and minimal end-user support - mean that Progress has a following among companies that want to keep IT overheads down.

Progress leads the "embedded database" market. Embedded databases are sold as part of applications, rather than as relational database management systems in their own right. Despite being one of the most successful database suppliers, Progress is almost unknown outside the independent software supplier sector.

Progress has 2,000 supplier partners which are responsible for more than 5,000 applications.

Progress Software owns, among other subsidiary companies, integration and middleware specialist Sonic Software and open source internet application platform supplier NuSphere.

Where did it originate?

The Progress Software Corporation was founded in 1981 and is based in Bedford.

What is it for?

More than 70% of Progress' revenue comes via software houses and recent releases have been optimised for the application service provider market.

The software is intended to be used by people who continually need to update and tailor their products to meet the needs of different customers.

Code can be reused, and Progress developers can choose the user interface, including native support for Microsoft .net, without changing the application logic. Progress said suppliers can also add support for web services and other new technologies without altering the core code.

The Progress Openedge platform includes Sonic Software's enterprise service bus (ESB) as its integration layer. Application developers can create a standards-based framework for sharing information with any applications and services that are plugged in to the ESB.

What makes it special?

Low cost of ownership through self-tuning, self-management capabilities means suppliers are not lumbered with costly end-user support, and end-users do not have to employ database administrators.

How difficult is it to master?

Progress said people can be productive with its English-like language within a couple of months, after a course that takes four days. Progress 10 has simplified the task of capturing business processes.

Where is it used?

Software houses and their customers. Progress application partners serve medium-sized to larger companies in industries such as financial services, manufacturing and transport. About 70% of Fortune 1,000 companies use applications based on Progress, and the Queen Mary 2 superliner has many systems developed in it.

Not many people know what...

The fuss over web services is about. More than half of the respondents in a survey of Progress application partners reported that fewer than half their customers were requesting web services. More than a quarter also said their customers did not know what a web service was and that they relied on their application providers to make the applications work, regardless of the technology employed.

What systems does it run on?

Windows, Unix, including HP/UX, AIX and Solaris, Linux and AS/400.

What is coming up?

At the end of 2003, Progress completed the acquisition of Data Direct, which specialises in components for connecting software to XML and relational data.

Training

Progress courses cost about £1,350 for four days. 
www.progress.com/uk

Rates of pay

Progress developers can look for £20,000 to £35,000 depending on experience. Progress 9 is the most widely used, but higher rates are available for people able to help with migration to Progress 10.

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This was first published in March 2004

 

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