Reinventing Progress Software—Boston’s Next Billion-Dollar Company?

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changing conditions. Finally, Progress is still strong in its original business, selling tools that help software developers build and debug business applications of all stripes.

On March 15, Progress released a new product called the “Progress Responsive Management (RPM) Suite” that combines the company’s event processing and process management tools into a single platform, managed through a so-called “control tower” that presents business leaders with real-time alerts, performance indicators, and interactive tools. Reidy said in a statement that the suite, which represents a reshuffling and re-assembly of software components that came into Progress through the January acquisition of Savvion, among other deals, provides managers with “total control over their business.”

Recently, Reidy and Progress Software’s chief technology officer, John Bates, visited Xconomy for an extended joint interview. The unification campaign provided the jumping-off point, but we also talked about the company’s history, its strategy for acquiring and integrating new companies, and the way its software can help customers in industries like finance and transportation. Along the way, I also got to quiz Reidy and Bates about the company’s role in the Boston high-tech ecosystem, and their take on trends like cloud computing and the mobile revolution.

Below is Part 1 of my interview with Reidy and Bates; we’ll publish Part 2 tomorrow.

Xconomy: Progress Software has been around for a long time, but it isn’t an easy company to describe in a sentence or two. How do you sum up the company?

Richard ReidyRichard Reidy: If there’s a unifying theme through our history, it’s always been providing whatever a developer needs to build, deploy, manage, and integrate a complete, soup-to-nuts business application. Now, what a “business application” is has changed quite a bit from 25 years ago. As a result, Progress has evolved over 25 to 30 years to take advantage of the new types of business applications and environments.

We started off in a dentist’s office—and I was there. The world of application development was very simple back then. You had a screen—and in those days it wasn’t even a graphical screen, it was a green IBM screen—and you’d put stuff in, you’d store it on disk, and you’d pull it out to process it or print an invoice. It was a closed environment. We started the company around building development tools that you could use to build an entire application. This was before Java, but it had the promise of Java: write once and deploy everywhere. You could be a three-person software company, hang out your shingle, and write software that would run on 50 Unix or PC environments.

Since then, obviously there are new interfaces; client-server, the Internet, cloud computing, and Web-based software; and a whole bunch of different environments and requirements. Applications have matured, and the integration requirements have become much more complex. We plug all the various gaps, so that … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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One response to “Reinventing Progress Software—Boston’s Next Billion-Dollar Company?”

  1. Charles Finkelstein says:

    Layoffs. Moving jobs to India. Used to be a good company. Not any more.