Jacada Sees a Webbed Future For Aging Government Systems

Jacada Sees a Webbed Future For Aging Government Systems

Aileen Bloom

By Jennifer Freer, Staff Writer

Jacada Ltd., a provider of e-business infrastructure software, is bringing its e-commerce expertise to the government market to help agencies connect their old computer systems and applications to the Web.

Atlanta-based Jacada launched its public-sector unit June 26 and will base it in McLean, Va. The company will focus on upgrading government agencies' legacy computer systems with Internet-enabling technology that does not require rewriting applications or retraining employees, company officials said.

Jacada's technology takes a graphical user interface and attaches it to the government's mainframe application, which is transformed into a Web-based screen. Jacada's server pulls the information from the old application and automatically changes the programming code to Java and HTML code.

"Our technology is easy to use. It looks more modern on a computer screen, which portrays a more competitive solution, and it's easy to access," said David Holmes, senior vice president of marketing for Jacada. "You just need a browser and a URL address, which means a significant cost reduction in deployment and training, and fewer errors in data."

In building e-commerce applications, Jacada's technology is a good first step for government agencies, said Jim Sinur, vice president of applications development with the GartnerGroup, a Stamford, Conn., information technology consulting and market research firm.

"This technology is being considered a piece of the overall integration world," he said. "If you don't have all the budget at once to revamp systems, you can get it done with this technology."

Jacada technology is "important in government applications because there are so many applications, and it lowers the cost of retraining employees with new skills," said Beth Gold-Bernstein, vice president of strategic products and services for ebizQ.net, a White Plains, N.Y., company that researches and reports on e-business solutions.

"The time is right and the technology is necessary," Gold-Bernstein said. "A lot of the mainframe code has been heavily invested in Y2K solutions, so the applications that are still there are likely to be there for a while."

Fixing potential year 2000 problems forced the federal government to make a crucial decision about the applications agencies used, Holmes said. Agencies had to decide whether to reinvest millions of dollars in upgrading a few old systems, or get rid of them. Jacada's new public-sector unit is targeting the surviving applications.

"The applications that have made it through the Y2K period now have to be considered part of the agencies' e-business strategies," Holmes said. "It makes a lot of sense to focus on those markets now."

In order to focus on those applications, Jacada hired Aileen Bloom as the federal business development director and Andrew Feinsot as the federal sales manager in February.

Jacada in 1999 had revenue of $14.6 million, and a net loss of $6,000, compared to 1998 revenue of $9.5 million and a loss of $2.9 million. Industry analysts expect to see the company hit $25 million this year.

Jacada, traded on the Nasdaq exchange, was last traded July 7 for $12.50. It has seen a 52-week high of $37.38 and a low of $7.44.

A few government customers already are using Jacada's software solutions, including the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the departments of the Interior and Treasury, and the National Institutes of Health. The company also is working with Kentucky and two other states that will be announced soon, Holmes said.

The company has partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md., which is using Jacada technology to monitor and upgrade its trucking services. HTE Inc., a Lake Mary, Fla.-based solution provider, has licensed Jacada technology to help better serve its government customers. And Jacada's services are available on the General Services Administration schedule through Severn Companies Inc., Lanham, Md.

Jacada plans to bid on government contracts as a subcontractor, not as a prime contractor. Opportunities such as the Federal Aviation Administration's Telecom Infrastructure contract worth $2 billion and the $10 billion Navy/Marine Corps Intranet contract are potential business prospects, according to Bloom. "They are on our radar screen," she said.

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