Rocket at 25: The Value of MultiValue

Imagine a technology solution that could allow you to manage massive amounts of unstructured data quickly, accurately, and efficiently. A system that could handle PDFs, photographs, Word documents, and emails just as easily as it handles data that’s neatly arrayed in a table? Welcome to the world of MultiValue – which has been delivering on the promise of making sense of unstructured data for the last 50 years. It’s the best-kept secret in computing, but savvy organizations in industries ranging from manufacturing to hospitality to banking know that MultiValue is leading the way, and rely on it every day.

In 1965 a pair of TRW engineers named Dick Pick and Don Nelson created a revolutionary new platform to help the U.S. Army track the inventory of helicopter parts. The system, originally called the Generalized Information Retrieval Language System (GIRLS) – which came to be known as the Pick Operating System – continues to be used by thousands of organizations around the world who know it today by its more commonly used name: the MultiValue database.

The MultiValue database of 2015 does a lot more than what the original Pick tools did. Back then, the idea of mobile (much less the Internet) wasn’t even on the radar. But the architecture was so good that as new technologies evolved it was easy to incorporate them into the system. I like to think of Pick as the perfect foundation – and 50 years later, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t.

This week, 50 years after Pick first introduced his system, Rocket Software hosted our inaugural Rocket MultiValue University (MVU) in Las Vegas, which attracted attendees from five continents, including developers, architects, and IT staff who work with business solutions powered by Rocket UniVerse, Rocket UniData, and Rocket D3. The agenda included 40 unique sessions and 10 hands-on labs focused on topics such as security, mobile, high availability, programming languages, reporting, and business intelligence. Many MultiValue developers and administrators also took advantage of the certification exams to sharpen their skills.

We also released Rocket Mobile for MultiValue (MV), an enterprise mobile development and deployment platform for customers who rely on MultiValue to power their business solution. Rocket Mobile MV enables customers to leverage their existing U2 or D3 applications to create new mobile applications faster, more economically, and with less risk.

Rocket Mobile MV App Builder

So why is Rocket so bullish on a technology that was first used when gas was 31 cents a gallon and landing on the moon was the stuff of science fiction? The short answer is that MultiValue is still playing a central role in helping thousands of organizations manage their information and make critical business decisions. We met with dozens of partners and customers who confirmed what we fundamentally believe – that after 50 years, MultiValue continues to be a dynamic and versatile technology that helps organizations solve real-world problems and maximize the value of their data.

That’s why we continue to invest so heavily in MultiValue, and expect to introduce new features and products to help users drive their efficiency, productivity, and profitability in the next year. Areas of special focus will include:

  • Security – Organizations need strategies to protect customer information and help meet compliance and industry regulations. Rocket MultiValue tools such as Automatic Data Encryption (ADE) and MultiValue server protocol (MVSP) will play an important role in the ability to meet this critical need.
  • High Availability/Disaster Recovery (HADR) – Downtime is not an option, so organizations need to implement 24/7 requirements for system and data available to help meet business continuity needs and compliance standards. Rocket has a long track record in HADR and is already offering this level of data protection to MultiValue customers and partners.
  • Modern Languages – MultiValue has remained relevant for 50 years because of its adaptability. By adding Python to the mix, which is currently in beta for UniData and UniVerse, MultiValue developers will soon be able to offer modern functionality while still maintaining the integrity of their underlying native applications.
  • Cloud/SaaS – As the world moves toward a decentralized data model, MultiValue needs to keep pace. Rocket MV is already making this a reality with SaaS capabilities such as account-based licensing and RESTful APIs.
  • Mobile Enablement – New systems, and those systems that were designed before the idea of mobility was even conceived now need a way to easily and rapidly take the business logic and data mobile. Rocket’s new mobile solution offers drag-and-drop development and RESTful services that make mobility a reality.

Dick Pick may have launched his revolutionary platform 50 years ago, but MultiValue has gone far beyond what those early users could have ever dreamed of. When it comes to what we are doing in the world of MultiValue databases, we don’t see the past: we see the future.

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Andy Youniss co-founded Rocket Software in 1990 and continues to be the company's main driving force. Andy successfully established and actively manages Rocket's largest OEM partnerships and is guiding the company's growth through technology investments, acquisitions, new product lines, and strategic partnerships. Prior to founding Rocket Software, Andy was the development manager for DB View Inc., a software company specializing in DB2 database tools. Previously, he was a programmer/analyst at American Management Systems, and was also a project development consultant. Andy holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

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