Systems Union, (SU) the UK's largest independent application software vendor, has shocked its reseller network by admitting the technical component delivery of its Captiva project will be delayed for at least another nine months.
SU specialises in mid range applications and is best known for Sun Accounts which it has sold in more than 180 countries. Captiva is a major rewrite of a Windows screen scrape Cobal based product to a full 32bit C++ code base and was originally slated for release last autumn.
In January this year, Systems Union said Captiva would be available as a phased release starting in spring, but now it has said the main technology improvements will not be available until the third quarter of 2000.
Jim Simpson, operation director of R&D at SU, admitted the main problems centre around performance and reliability.
"We found there are elements we could have done better. Some server and client communications components, the business rules engine and transfer mechanisms are the main areas requiring a degree of rewriting," he said.
When available, the technology components will be included in release 5.1. However, Simpson stressed that some of the functional components are being delivered in version 4.26. The business rules engine was bought a year ago from Spanlink and is regarded as a core part of Captiva as it allows automatic error trapping.
Recently, SU has been sweetening its 200 plus reseller channel by stressing performance improvements it has achieved using Microsoft SQL Server as the database engine and running an upgrade programme for those users moving to the full Microsoft server platform.
But, it is understood the load times seen in recent demonstrations are completely unacceptable and resellers like Eclipse and Touchstone are actively looking to other mid range vendors.
One, who preferred not to be identified, said: "They're stretching our patience to breaking point. We can't wait any longer, customers want product that takes advantage of all Microsoft's servers. We don't believe they'll deliver."
However, Simpson says reaction depends on geography.
"They're not at all worried in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Far East - in fact they prefer our existing software because it is proven and stable. Of course we're disappointed, but our business partners are sticking with us. They're pretty sanguine in the UK," he said.
SU competitors take different views. Neil Robertson, managing director of Great Plains Software UK, said, "Some SU resellers have come over to us saying they don't believe the technology will be delivered. Another year is a long time in this business."
Asked if Great Plains is benefiting, Robertson added, "It's a very competitive market, but we're getting a 40 per cent conversion rate and have added around 1,000 customers in the UK this last three years. But we're not writing them off just yet."
Yash Nagpal, managing director of Navision UK, added, "SU has some very loyal resellers but there is a limit to what they will accept. With customers looking for extra functionality, now is the time to look to new technology."
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