In the February issue of A-E-C Automation Newsletter, we reported that Convergent Group (Englewood, CO) was consolidating several aspects of its operations to focus on providing large-scale GIS system integration and consulting services. While Convergent Group’s system integration and consulting operations enjoyed continued growth and profitability, the Graphic Data Systems Corp. (GDS Corp.) software product lines did not meet expectations. As a result of this disappointing performance, the firm ceased investing in new GDS Corp. software R&D, including major enhancements to the company’s product lines. It also embarked on a mission to find an interested company to purchase the product line. It didn’t take long to come up with a suitable party.
An agreement with Informatix Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) has been finalized for the purchase of development and marketing rights to Convergent Group’s MicroGDS and Piranesi software product lines. MicroGDS is a suite of Windows-based, 2D and 3D, drafting and design software tools for architects, engineers, facility planners, and interior designers. Piranesi is interactive rendering software that combines the geometric precision of typical 3D rendering with the representational and expressive freedom of a paint program.
With the software acquisition, Informatix has formed a subsidiary company, Informatix Software International Limited, in Cambridge, England. A company spokesman said the newly formed company will build on current global distribution channels for the GDS products, as well as pursue an aggressive development program.
Informatix has been a business partner with Convergent Group for more than 15 years. During this time, Informatix has both distributed GDS Corp. products to a user base of more than 4,000 in Japan, and has developed complementary AEC applications.
"This agreement underscores our commitment to the GDS Corp. customers who were impacted by the company’s January  decision to curtail its investment in new product research and development," said David Stewart, Convergent Group president and CEO.
Convergent Group, the industry’s largest GIS systems integration company, is still committed, however, to fulfilling all GDS Corp. contracts and will continue to provide existing users of GDS Corp. software with support, system maintenance, bug fixes, and operating system and database upgrades for at least three years. The company said it expects that MicroGDS Version 5.1 and GDS Version 5.6 will be released late August 1997. The company said that over time some components of the GDS product line will be merged into the Convergent Group’s suite of systems integration tools. These merged technologies will be incorporated, along with products from other applications developers, into the integrated systems delivered to Convergent Group customers in the future.
As the Informatix deal was being finalized, Convergent Group announced that it had struck up and signed a cooperative business agreement with Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) (Redlands, CA) for strengthening Convergent Group’s ESRI-based software integration. This non-exclusive agreement focuses on delivering client/server, enterprise-wide product and system solutions in the public sector/transportation, telecommunications, and utilities markets.
This new arrangement broadens the relationship between the two companies, which have cooperated in recent years on a number of GIS projects. The agreement enhances Convergent Group’s ability to integrate all components of ESRI’s product line — including ArcView GIS, ARC/INFO, MapObjects, and Spatial Database Engine (SDE). The SDE technology is especially noteworthy because it allows a relational database management system (RDBMS) to manage and use spatial data within other standard and specialized software applications.
The agreement also included merging any future GDS Corp. software development efforts into ESRI’s future releases, along with a cooperative migration strategy for GDS Corp. software customers who want to transfer to ESRI technology. Migration services to be offered by the two companies include database design and development of prepackaged macros that will aid in migrating data to ESRI products.