With Mozart, Army scores update of a big '60s-era business system

The Army is putting a modern face on one of the world’s largest and oldest
integrated business systems.
The service is modernizing its Commodity Command Standard System, a big job by any
measure, Army officials said.
CCSS, managed by the Army Materiel Command’s Logistics Systems Support Center in St.
Louis, consists of more than 561 subsystems and 5,000 programs running 10.2 million lines
of code, not to mention 20,000 PCs.


“CCSS is a very large and somewhat old system that has the great virtue of working
very well, but it doesn’t have a modern appearance,” said Thom Tellez, project
manager for CCSS modernization. “The near-term initiatives address how people
interact with CCSS.”


Many of the logistics systems’ legacy applications date from the late 1960s, Army
officials said. The IBM Corp. programs predate the Information Management System of the
1970s, a hierarchical database management system for IBM mainframes running under MVS.


The logistics center last year selected Mozart Systems Corp. of Burlingame, Calif., to
modernize the applications by changing the system’s traditional, text-only host
screen with a point-and-click graphical user interface. The Army picked Mozart for the
modernization project from a field of five vendors, Tellez said.


CCSS users will work more efficiently using Mozart Systems’ MozWin software,
Tellez said, because it quickly navigates through the labyrinth of legacy applications. A
single sign-on window on the front end replaces six screens, each of which require a
log-in procedure, he said.


“We gain by going to a GUI environment because it’s an opportunity to make
things a little easier, to show the meanings of codes and to make processes a tad more
intuitive,” Tellez said.


CCSS automatically measures and monitors stock, updates catalogs, processes
procurement, maintains inventory, provides security assistance and performs financial
management. The system also lets Army supply officers order, manage, sell and account for
$23 billion in mission-critical commodities a year, including ammunition, parts and
supplies.


MozWin attaches a GUI front end on CCSS, w hich runs on an IBM 3270 mainframe. GUI
white-on-blue screens on PCs replace the old 3270 terminal emulation, which only displayed
text.


“Our products are sitting between the user and the mainframe to put a
Windows-based appearance on the legacy systems,” Tellez said. Last month, the Army
fielded the first of the new applications—three months ahead of schedule—for
selected users at different sites, he said.


Microsoft Windows 95 is the minimum requirement for program users, Tellez said. Right
now the user base primarily runs Win95, he said, “so we’re targeting what they
have. But we’ll support 95 or Windows NT. As soon as Windows 98 becomes a product
that users have, we’ll be there to support it.”


CCSS will eventually go online, Tellez said. To reach that goal, the Army plans to use
MozNet for secure Web-to-host access. MozNet, also from Mozart, automatically creates a
Hypertext Markup Language interface for Internet use.


The Army spent $2.4 million for the GUI upgrade, including user licenses and software.


Other Defense Department agencies, including the Defense Logistics Agency, have asked
for the product, Tellez said.


“We’ve been in this project every step of the way,” said Alan Parnass,
Mozart’s chief executive officer. “We’ve made in some cases minor and other
cases more significant enhancements in the product to meet specific idiosyncratic aspects
of the way CCSS works.”

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