London-based Raft International has joined forces with Microsoft and Compaq to introduce a new platform for component-based rapid application development. Raft released RaftPaq in London in March and is now targeting the U.S. financial services arena. The software helps institutions customize, upgrade and change applications quickly to enable clients to keep up with evolving technology. Clients work with a Raft consultant to choose from RaftPaqs over 500 componentsall a result of previous application development done by Raft consultants for the financial community.
"RaftPaq applications are aimed at financial institutions, such as investment banks, that cover the kind of applications we provide in terms of credit risk, private banking, limit management and foreign exchange," says Jonathan Lester, Raft International marketing manager. The rapid application development (RAD) methodology will be available on the Microsoft Windows NT platform preloaded into Compaq Professional Workstations. Written in Microsoft Visual Basic, the system enables developers to build applications using 20-30 Web-compatible components very quicklyusually within a time span of a few days to a few weeks.
According to Lester, the RaftPaq is currently in the testing phase at about seven international banks in Europe. Although he wouldnt disclose the names of the institutions testing the technology, Lester says, "Were very confident that the testing stage in Europe will progress to full deployment sometime during the last quarter of this year." He adds that while RaftPaq currently focuses on private banking areas such as credit risk, foreign exchange, spot deal capture and transaction processing, there is no reason why it cant be developed into other banking areas. Walter Siefert, CEO of North American Operations, expects that application work with new clients in the U.S. could begin as early as September. He anticipates an even larger response in the first quarter of the new millennium during a post-Y2k demand for new technology. Siefert adds, "We think well have a huge advantage after the Y2k crunch is over ..." When asked about the firms competition, he notes, other firms offer component based solutions, "but Im not aware of any using the rapid application development."
To deploy the applications, clients work directly with Raft consultants using a set of basic reusable business components that can be rapidly assembled. The client then customizes their application with newer components that can than be modified or changed at any time. Because Raft retains ownership of components, clients pay a yearly-licensing fee that includes maintenance and upgrade technology. To change an application, clients must submit modifications to Raft where they are approved and implemented. Raft insists that while clients have some control over the components, it is legally responsible for the application and therefore must approve and/or oversee changes. For more information on RaftPaq visit https://www.raftinternational.com.