On a nice warm day you may spot an eagle gliding. Symbols of power, they appear to fly almost effortlessly. They know how to do something every business needs to know. They rely on a power beyond themselves -- warm thermals -- to give them altitude. They cover long distances just by gliding and actually use only a fraction of the effort that other birds use while beating their wings. Businesses also can glide seemingly effortlessly toward their objectives by outsourcing. Indeed, companies that are successful in the next five to ten years will outsource all of their business functions that are not their core expertise. And some of the most prominent of those successful companies will be in the pharmaceutical industry.
As human genome mapping starts to produce results and new drugs are developed to eradicate or control some of life's most significant challenges, the spotlight will be on pharmaceutical companies. Time to market will drive their efforts. But the pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, so their innovative development efforts will require tight management and control, along with certain levels of configuration management and maturity models (CMM). Outsourcers such as MERANT provide powerful solutions that will allow them to fly like eagles.
Keith White, MERANT's vice president and general manager, explains that 70% of development projects fail and 90% of them are over budget and behind schedule. The challenges are obvious for, as he points out, "When you have to develop a product that has to fit in to a million different environments, the risks and time and resources required to get them deployed and to maintain and manage them is expensive."
MERANT decided to use the Internet to create "development on demand." The company spent millions of dollars on collaborative tools and infrastructure in a one-to-many model and, today, its outsourcing customers can run their development projects in its secure portal at a 50% -75% cost savings. MERANT ASaP delivers hosted solutions that give development teams everything they need in order to create, manage and deploy high-quality applications -- anywhere, at any time and on any machine. The company's Development on Demand -- Workspace provides instant Web access to best-of-breed development tools, processes and services in a collaborative workspace on a highly secure infrastructure. Its name -- ASaP -- capitalizes on speed. "We just plug them in, and they're ready to go," says White. "We have a 72-hour deployment guarantee, but we usually get customers' projects configured in 24 hours even before they are ready."
ASaP was launched in mid-September 2000 and, by December 31, 22 customers were using the services. More than 400 developers at 50 customer locations -- including Ford Automotive Remarketing Services, Merck & Co., Inc., Agilent Technologies, Hewlett Packard and the U.S. Department of Justice -- are on the client roster today. Whether the customer is a large or small company, MERANT brings standardization and the latest technologies to the table. "With this hosted development model, everybody is working through the Internet, and all of a company's developers have the latest technology without the headache of trying to upgrade each individual machine at the same time," White explains.
At MERANT ASaP, customers basically outsource their code to MERANT's secure data center (its infrastructure is managed by its strategic partner, Intel Online Services), where the code can be managed through configuration management. MERANT then ties in services such as issue management, change management, requirements management and Mercury Interactive's load testing and Web performance monitoring. The intuitive workspace is a collaborative environment that includes Web boards, chat sessions, ftp servers and other tools -- all accessible through a single login for a very low monthly fee.
Currently, MERANT ASaP clients use the service to design and develop their own software and systems. But think about it. It's a hosted arena that facilitates development and innovation, so why couldn't it be used to develop new pharmaceutical products or innovative items for other industries in the near future? White agrees, although the company currently is not targeting anyone other than software developers.
The company's issue management tool, for example, manages change. "And at the end of the day, isn't that what we are doing every day?" ponders White. So maybe a futuristic company named XYZ Pharmaceuticals has a small team working on creating a new drug that needs to do requirements A, B, C and D for the end user patient. "The development team would need to track those requirements to the actual development to ensure that what it creates and tests actually meets those requirements," says White. "In essence you can do that now with MERANT ASaP solutions."
The future is now. Before long, collaborative development projects in all industries will be outsourced to providers like MERANT that provide best-of-breed tools and services that enable their customers to save money and time to market and glide through projects like an eagle.