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Curse of Itanic doomed MigraTEC

Cold shoulder for custom 64bits

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Not even high profile partners such as AMD, Intel, HP and Microsoft were enough to keep software porting company MigraTEC alive, as the board of directors have ordered the company to close up shop by October 15.

MigraTEC is a small company based in Dallas, Texas focused on helping customers move 32 bit applications onto 64 bit processors. In particular, MigraTEC presents itself as the answer for companies looking to adopt Intel's Itanium processor. MigraTEC executives apparently failed to see this Itanic relationship as the curse that it is and held out too much hope that customers were looking for custom solutions in packaged app times.

An Oct. 1 SEC filing, shows that MigraTEC is prepared to cease operations by mid-month. The few deals still in the works will not provide enough revenue to let MigraTEC survive.

"In view of the above and the fundamental lack of liquidity in the business, the Registrant’s Board of Directors has concluded that the Registrant no longer possesses the ability to continue operations and has directed that operations cease effective on or about October 15, 2003," MigraTEC says in the filing. "As of that date the remaining employees will be terminated and any residual service obligations the Registrant has will be fulfilled by contractors. Additionally, due to the Registrant’s inability to meet its obligations with regard to the space it leased on Luna Road, in Dallas, Texas, effective immediately the offices of the Registrant have been relocated to temporary office space."

MigraTEC's demise - insignificant as it may seem - points to some larger trends in the IT industry, according to Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff.

"Part of the problem was certainly Itanium's slow adoption - though I'm not at all sure it was the critical factor at the end of the day," Haff said. "The bigger problem is that it's really hard to make money off specialized development tools. A big trend in software is moving away from maintaining and porting lots of in-house, proprietary code and toward packaged and platform-independent applications. More or less stuff like Java."

MigraTEC, in many ways, allowed itself to get caught in hype of its own creation. It signed on with HP and Intel to start shifting code C/C++ code from x86 chips onto Itanium. For a couple of years, all three companies held out hope that Itanium would be picked up quickly. Customers were meant to flock to the custom coding tools as Itanic became an industry standard.

With but a few thousand Itanium systems actually out in the wild, this dream never really panned out. This forced MigraTEC to turn in other directions. It offered to help customers work on just about any 64bit platform out there. 32bit Unix to 64bit Unix, Unix to 64bit Linux, 32bit Windows to 64bit Windows, Xeon to Opteron; you name it - MigraTEC was there.

"They were never able to understand that just because there are billions of lines of C/C++ code out there, that people were not going to migrate it to 64bit," Haff said. "They put great stock in all their "partnerships" with companies like Intel and HP and played them up to the hilt. Unfortunately for them, these sorts of 'partnerships' and $1 (or $5 in the case of Starbucks) will only get you a cup of coffee."

In an era with so many 64bit options, it seems odd that MigraTEC could not hang on for a couple more years. In the end, however, the interest in mass 64bit custom coding fizzled before it could take off.

As recently as June, MigraTEC was able to raise another million in investment to try and keep the company running a bit longer. In August, it also secured a deal with Toshiba to license the 32Direct product and made a small sale to the IRS for a 32bit to 64bit migration assessment. An unnamed Wall Street firm also purchased a license for its 64Express product. These meager signs of momentum were not enough to keep the migration projects going.

At this point and time, what's left of MigraTEC is trying to sell off the company's source code and other assets. Time, however, is running out.

"The Registrant failed to make an interest payment due September 30, 2003 to its secured debt holders and has advised the collateral agent for the secured debt holders of its financial condition. While the ultimate success of the Registrant’s sales efforts for non-exclusive source code licenses is unknown at this point, it is probable that the Registrant will not be able to repay the principal amount owed to the secured debt holders. If the Registrant is unable to generate sufficient revenue from source code licenses over the next two weeks to repay the aggregate amount owed to the secured debt holders, management believes that the collateral agent will pursue all of its lawful remedies relating to the secured debt. "

If Intel had a heart, it would scoop up the MigraTEC assets and save this Itanic coder from any further humiliation. ®

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