2022/03/28

The Long and Winding Road to RightAngle .NET

by Lucido Group

Like weary travelers who just spent weeks trekking across a forbidden desert or climbing to the highest mountain peak, many RightAngle clients are fatigued with the application and its direction. An odyssey of the migration to .NET and declining client service through acquisitions are the main culprits for this weariness and it is worth reflecting a bit on that history. Do not fret! All is not doom and gloom for the beleaguered C/ETRM users of the world—all technology has varying lifespans before being replaced with better options. There are best practices and ways to navigate the challenges and, quite frankly, will cost less than what one might expect to spend if there were viable platform replacement options.

Carrying the Load – Technology Migration

Most of us know that it has taken an excessive amount of time for the RightAngle platform to be migrated to .NET. For those unaware of the history, S9 (circa 2008) was the last full PowerBuilder version and S17 (circa 2019) was the first full .NET version. Yes, your math is correct! It has taken over 10 years from when the original vendor (SolArc) committed to migrate to .NET until it was fully delivered.

As a result of the winding path to .NET, we found most clients separated into a few different buckets when considering their upgrade choices:

  1. Delayed Upgrade – Wait until the full .NET migration to upgrade. Yes, there are still some shops operating on S9. While S9 is a stable platform, its performance is poor, it is unsupported by the vendor, and does not allow the client access to new and improved functionality.
  2. Early Upgrade – Those who upgraded to one of the first early releases (S10, S11.6 or S12) hoping that only one more upgrade would come before the full .NET. Note: these versions are the least stable.
  3. Later Upgrade – Those who upgraded to a later release (S14/14.1, 15, S16) before upgrading or considering an upgrade to full .NET. These versions are the most stable .NET platforms but like all versions between S9 and S17, although there is only one database to house the underlying data, users have to access either the PB or .NET application based on the functions they want to perform. Having to view, transform and enter data in two different applications can be inefficient and frustrating.
  4. Frequent Upgrade – The high achievers – and probably the most weary – who upgraded every couple of years and have been consistently in project mode for over 10 years.

Patient or not, unfortunately, given the vendor focus of the past decade on the platform migration and not platform improvement, issues and functional limitations with the platform that have existed since S9 still persist and, of course, new challenges have been introduced within the migration process.

Mergers & Acquisitions

A major factor in the lengthiness of time taken to deliver on the .NET migration was the series of acquisitions of the RightAngle platform. In late 2011, SolArc, the original vendor and developers of the platform, was acquired by Openlink. Within a few years of the Openlink acquisition, a number of key RightAngle subject matter experts departed; as is common in many acquisitions. Some of these key people retired, moved to different industries, or became independent contractors within the RightAngle space.

Fast forward to 2019 and ION Group has not only acquired RightAngle from Openlink, but it has also gained a virtual monopoly by buying several other major C/ETRMs such as Allegro, TriplePoint, and Aspect. Many wondered if ION would consolidate these competing applications to one or two “best in class” platforms and would confirm the vendor’s continued investment in improving the product. Unfortunately ION has continued on a more predictable path that most aggregators follow and as we have seen throughout ION’s other platform acquisitions in its history (Wall Street Systems, CitiFinancials).

During this decade, and in line with an aggregator approach, there has continued to be a decline in not only customer service provided by the vendor on each of the platforms but also the ability to support and understand these applications. Finding quality resources who have experience and knowledge of the platform seem to be shrinking over time, especially given the product’s categorization into “legacy” status. Once a product is seen as legacy, investing time and effort to support that product has a clear negative return on investment for the long term as there is hesitancy and lack of direction on how to implement changes on the business side into a platform that the vendor will not add to core. This means continued and increased responsibility on the client to solve, customize and implement their own solutions for improving product functionality. This can be extremely frustrating especially considering the high cost in vendor support and maintenance of the platform.

The Bright Side

The positive in the current situation is that RightAngle is a relatively stable platform. Compared to some of the applications in the space, it is able to deliver more consistent and workable functionality out of the box without heavy customization beyond interfacing data to/from other applications.

Further, technology has never been better positioned to offer up flexible options. A lot of these systems create the opportunity to build out functionality that can tie into your application and greatly increase your system viability. The reality is that there is NOT another RightAngle on the near-term horizon. Leveraging your existing technology dollar makes both financial and business sense.

How We Can Help

Given much of what we have covered, you may be finding yourself relying heavily on external consultants to supplement vendor limitations and this reliance can turn into dependence which comes at a high cost to your company.

At Lucido, we offer a wide range of services focused on helping you get the most out of your system and with the intention of helping you lessen your dependence on outside consultants. Some of our services include but are not limited to:

  • Platform Ownership & Training – We provide tools that you can leverage to empower your internal assets with more knowledge around your business processes and how those processes are modeled in the trading platform. Lucido provides a support offering enabling clients to stabilize their trading solution as well as strengthening critical in-house expertise.
  • Lucido Innovation Lab – Our development and product team members have extensive experience with the C/ETRM data models allowing us to not only ensure maximized value within the core platform, but to also create custom solutions to bridge any gaps in the core functionality.
  • Solution Advisory Services – Our ultimate goals focus on streamlining business processes and managing your risk around project delivery and vendor complacency. We do so by de-risking your existing platforms, as well as delivering upgrades and new product on-boarding. The time is now to begin planning for the foundational solutions to manage your business, assuming a 5-7 year timeframe before the existing platform can be fully replaced.

Reach out! Our team has decades of experience working with solution delivery specifically around C/ETRM applications and have the relationships to prove it—references are our biggest driver for new clients—come find out why!