Tucked away on Wellington’s waterfront is an unassuming kiwi company bringing in the next generation of design and creation of cloud computing software.
Many may never have heard of Core Technology and their software Aviarc™ – but international experts are heralding it as years ahead of anything else.
If you’re a software aficionado, you’re going to be gob smacked about Aviarc’s huge leap forward in the evolving science of software development.
If you’re not and you haven’t seen the way Aviarc works, you’ll go “so what”: and that’s part of the challenge that Core Technology has, as it launches its cloud-based toolset to a world where even small steps for mankind are often hyped up like moon landings.
However, Aviarc has been described by no less than IBM as being the most complex piece of code in the cloud. Since 2004, many millions of dollars have been spent on its R&D, which has also enjoyed the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. This has enabled Aviarc to remain a proudly kiwi invention.
Aviarc links a highly visual, social, web based front end of software design (what someone wants done, and how it should look and feel) with the back end creation of the software that will make a computer system to automate the design.
‘Traditionally’, if such a word can be used in the relative recent history of computing, there has been a huge disconnect between what a client wants in software and what is delivered.
“We know from twenty years of detailed research by leading analysts that in the eyes of the business users, two thirds of software fails partly or wholly – and this is still true today,” says Aviarc General Manager, Wellington, Stephen Goodier. “What is built and delivered is not quite what is wanted so user confidence has declined. It is an issue that has plagued the industry for decades.”
CT managing director Shane Mercer set out with a vision in 2004:to overcome this problem and intimately link the design and development phases together in such a way that the user and developers had fingertip control, using every-day visual metaphors, such as pinning notes on a board. Though the internet ‘cloud’ was more a concept than reality then, it seemed like a logical and fresh way to approach the challenge and its development has dovetailed neatly into Aviarc’s.
Using all the powerful characteristics of the web and browser was a no-brainer: the eureka moment in Aviarc was the development of the ‘Temporal Engine’ – a software component that allows anyone to go back and forward in time – to where a particular operation was working okay, or better than what has been developed so far.
So far, so relatively geeky.
Aviarc’s final licensed product has three separate phases – Think, Link and Ink. Another way of looking at it is to Capture, Conceive and Construct; moving from a type of right brain creative, social, design thinking to more of a left brain engineering, building, integrating set up.
And where Aviarc has excited many non-techy people is its ‘Drawing Board’ (the Think stage).
This is a design stage where figurative sticky notes are put on its pin board. As a relatively unstructured stage, it allows people to play, get an idea of what they might like a final software product to look like.
People can contribute remotely to this drawing board stage; from around a city, country or world if desired – all they need is a web browser and Aviarc.
The Think-Link component is where an IT professional comes in; helping to put extra structure around what is required by the client users, and at the same time automatically creating up to 80% of the software application required to achieve the desired front-end functionality. After the Link stage, the instructions and a great percentage of the necessary web browser based software is able to be handed over to one or two developers to quickly finish off.
“One of the problems Aviarc solves is that it provides certainty of outcome,” says Goodier. “What you get is exactly what you expect – after all, you’ve actually designed it and evolved it with your team of users.”
“Typically people look at Aviarc and say ‘It looks too good to be true’” he says ”Then they take a close look and realize that it really does do everything they have hoped for. We’ve had global experts deep dive on the tech, then surface and say ‘it’s real!’ – it’s our favourite moment in the journey.”
In fact Aviarc’s release as a separate, patented piece of intellectual property also begins a planned transition of Core Technology’s business and the start of the go-to-market stage. However, the seven years of R&D has not been in isolation – over thirty Australasian companies and public sector organisations already use Aviarc.
The Aviarc platform will be licenced for sale to business partners – with the overall package and Aviarc Drawing Board being sold as separate products. Aviarc can already be delivered on the client premises, mobile or via the IBM, Fujitsu and Amazon public clouds.
“A major play will be to go to Independent Software Vendors (ISV),” says Goodier. Core has already signed Wellington company Equinox, who use Aviarc to write software-as-a-service applications for its clients.
Using the Aviarc platform provides three main advantages for its users he says:
• For ISV’s needing to modernise or revitalise applications, Aviarc provides an easy way to get into the cloud, get mobile and get new economies
• It allows ISV’s to write applications for end user clients that change fast and frequently
• Large clients can use Aviarc to write their own applications – often they just get Core to do this with them, stating is as less expensive than a package.
One of the main advantages in using Aviarc, because the problem solving starts at the design end is captured at the Link stage, is de-risking the project and delivering certainty of look, feel, behaviour.
From here on in most of the variability has gone so “it is far easier to fix cost a project – and that is what we usually d,” Goodier says.
It has been estimated that Aviarc is 4-5 times more productive from a software development point of view than present methods. Recently clients have observed it as being about one week of work for every month they would have been used to.
“We thought it would be all about compelling price and speed but we’ve been surprised,” he says.
“For the client, whilst these things are good, it is not about the price, it is more about the certainty; the client knows what they are getting. The outcome is guaranteed. You end up with custom software, designed for you. We had no idea just how much frustration there is out there”.
Aviarcs Temporal Engine is one of its several key patents, and the ability it provides for developers to go back in time (to a prior stage of code development) is a “way to enter a universe that previously existed creating a freedom to jump backwards and forwards between design and create stages that just didn’t exist before,” he says.
“We have a special product here, and we’re excited by what it can offer to those wanting custom software, fast, that delivers on its promise. The programming languages used to develop cloud software pre-date the cloud itself, we’re the first of a new generation to really exploit every aspect of cloud, mobile, visual and social. The results so far have been spectacular.”