Parallels to the Ardent-Informix-Ascential merger/de-merger come to mind as five staff of former website design company Glazier (merged into Advantage Group in 1999), leave to form Wellington website company Provoke Systems.
The company is attempting to recreate something of the Glazier culture, says managing director Mason Pratt: “a small team of smart, hard-working people who know one another's working style and strengths.”
This is not a negative reflection on Advantage, he says. “We fitted well into the Advantage group, and gained the experience of work for larger corporates. But we felt it was time to move on." He says Provoke has a good working relationship with Advantage, and the recent decline in the latter’s financial fortunes at the same time as the five left was “more of a coincidence than anything else”. Unlike the emergence of Ascential, the Provoke move involves only a minority of ex-Glazier people. There are about a dozen former Glazier staff still in the Advantage Group, Pratt says.
The emphasis of Provoke will be on technical and business competence in building websites, rather than on graphics design skills. In fact, the company is at present outsourcing its graphics design, though it plans to employ in-house staff on this front. Provoke, which started business this month, has one client, which staff decline to name.
The company will use Microsoft products as its platform – SQL Server, DNA, Visual Basic, Biztalk, Commerce Server and Microsoft’s “knowledge management” system, Sharepoint. Provoke has an association with knowledge management company iKnow, and also with JungleDrum, creator of web-oriented business applicatons, and consultancy Xacta.
Systems produced will have a clean structure with all the business logic in a single layer, says Pratt. In many three-tier client-server systems, some of the logic tends to leak into the front-end presentation layer or into the database. Having it all in the middle layer will make it easier to reuse pieces of one project’s logic for another’s, he says. The absence of a small team specialising in Microsoft web technology was a gap in the market when Glazier was absorbed, Pratt says. Within Advantage, the team worked on a broader range of software from multiple vendors.
The company has a provoking tarantula as its logo, and members of staff will be asked to adopt a provoking animal – so far crab, scorpion, puma, snake and elephant have been taken - as their personal totem.