Taking Mainframe Reports Into Mainstream IT

Integration with other information technology programs increases the value of COLD software.

Going back to their microfiche legacy, COLD (computer output to laser disk) systems have been thought of as islands of information. COLD is software that electronically stores mainframe-generated reports. These reports include statements, bills, payroll reports, etc.

Over the past few years, COLD systems have converged with document imaging systems. "At first, this convergence was characterized by users adding imaging to existing COLD installations," says Craig Laue, business development manager for Docubase Systems. "Now, at the same time that users install COLD, they are asking for seamlessly integrated document imaging systems."

Users Seek One Window Of Access
Docubase is a developer of document imaging and COLD software. It is a subsidiary of the Cegedim Group, which is located in France. Docubase's U.S. headquarters is in Clearwater, FL.

In addition to imaging, COLD systems are now being integrated with other applications. These include ERP (enterprise report planning), CRM (customer relationship management), electronic bill payment and presentment, records management, and CD publication.

"End users want to access all of their information through a single window," says Laue. "This trend goes pretty much across industries, although the banking industry remains a little more conservative. In banking, we are still seeing a good deal of stand-alone COLD installations."

Adding Records Management To COLD
Tony Waeschle, director of the worldwide business partner program at SER/Macrosoft, says his company is currently adding records management and CD publication capabilities to its COLD software. "We are focusing on integrating front end storage and retrieval with back end records management. Records management involves moving dated documents from primary to secondary storage and even destroying documents at the proper time," says Waeschle. "We are developing software to perform these functions automatically. We are also working on software that manages the automatic publishing of documents, such as reports, on CDs for distribution."

Waeschle says this type of integrated performance has not historically been available in COLD systems. "IT directors will pay a VAR for knowledge about this type of integration," says Waeschle.

SER/Macrosoft is also a developer of document imaging and COLD software. It is headquartered in Rochester Hills, MI and is a wholly owned subsidiary of SER Systems in Germany.

Porting COLD To The Web
Waeschle adds that end users are also integrating their COLD systems with Web applications. "This integration is occurring on two levels. Some businesses are using the Web as a wide-area network to provide expanded internal access to their COLD documents. They are also using the Web to provide consumers with electronic access to COLD items, such as bills, statements, and account histories," says Waeschle. "Typically, an end user will already have built a Web site before integrating it with a COLD application. There is nothing to prevent VARs from constructing Web sites for their customers. However, in most cases, VARs just need to know how to integrate their COLD software with popular Web products."

Ralph Gammon