GNAT Support Costs 
Author Message
 GNAT Support Costs

I have recently made enquiries about using GNAT for a small project (typically
only 1 programmer) and was staggered to find out the support costs. Really
I was just after buying a product that I knew I would get new releases for
as and when they came out and feel like I'm not just using a product for free.

Because ACT seem to assume the smallest project will involve 10 programmers
I am forced to have to consider another compiler.

I know Rational do an Ada95 compiler, not sure which platforms it resides on.
My preferred platform is Linux but it could also be Compaq Tru64 Unix.

Does anyone have any recommendations of cheaper compilers that cater for
small projects?

Rob Kirkbride
--



Wed, 10 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

Quote:

> Does anyone have any recommendations of cheaper compilers that cater for
> small projects?

Um, the public version of Gnat?
Then you can sign up for support when it suddenly
looks like a cheap option.

The other option is to contact all the Ada suppliers yourself.

cheers
Geoff



Thu, 11 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

Quote:

> I have recently made enquiries about using GNAT for a small project
> (typically only 1 programmer) and was staggered to find out the
> support costs. Really I was just after buying a product that I knew
> I would get new releases for as and when they came out and feel like
> I'm not just using a product for free.

If you feel you _ought_ to pay for what you use, that's laudable. You
might consider donating a suitable amount to the FSF?

If you're worried about the availability of GNAT support at all, check
out GNAT chat, people are helpful there.

Quote:
> Because ACT seem to assume the smallest project will involve 10
> programmers I am forced to have to consider another compiler.

You have to check out what it is you're getting for your money, and
for how long. If you get a single copy of a compiler for a certain
amount, as against ACT support for 9 more people than you need at
considerably more, what is the support you will get like? you might
find you can only raise a few incidents per year, for example. And
there may be ongoing charges for subsequent years, too.

Quote:
> I know Rational do an Ada95 compiler, not sure which platforms it
> resides on.  My preferred platform is Linux but it could also be
> Compaq Tru64 Unix.

Your preferred platforms are likely to limit you a bit. What's your
target platform?

Quote:
> Does anyone have any recommendations of cheaper compilers that cater
> for small projects?

Aonix, perhaps?


Thu, 11 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

Quote:


>> Because ACT seem to assume the smallest project will involve 10
>> programmers I am forced to have to consider another compiler.

> You have to check out what it is you're getting for your money, and
> for how long. If you get a single copy of a compiler for a certain
> amount, as against ACT support for 9 more people than you need at
> considerably more, what is the support you will get like? you might
> find you can only raise a few incidents per year, for example. And
> there may be ongoing charges for subsequent years, too.

And there _might_ be a premium for using it on Tuesday's, but
all of this can be evaluated by the purchaser.  Certainly when
I enquired about ACT support there was a minimum number of seats
(although it was 3 at that time, not 10) and that dissuades those
who need less, and might not even be able to generate support
requests fast enough.  Of course ACT is free to set whatever
rules they want and anyone else is free to enter the GNAT support
business as a competitor.

Larry Kilgallen



Thu, 11 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs
Quote:


> > Does anyone have any recommendations of cheaper compilers that cater for
> > small projects?

> Um, the public version of Gnat?
> Then you can sign up for support when it suddenly
> looks like a cheap option.

At the risk of trying to tell someone else how to run their
business....:-)

It would seem to me that it might pay to "segment the market" here.
There are tiers of customers with varying levels of support needed. Some
might simply need questions answered and advice on how to use the
product to achieve their objectives. (I've fallen into this category
many times!) Others might need that sort of technical support plus new
releases as soon as they are available. Still others might need all of
that plus bug fixes & enhancements on demand. Also, some projects are
very small (one person) while others could be quite large and long
lived. Structuring support contracts to try to capture each of those
segments makes business sense.

I know I have been in a position when using GNAT where I've simply
needed someone knowledgable about the compiler to talk me through
methods of obtaining the results I want. However, most of these were
one-man operations, some just IR&D efforts to prove out concepts. While
I wanted support, ACT seemed to be at a price point which I might have
been able to justify to the bean counters for a full-up engine control
project, but could never squeeze out the signatures needed for the
little hacker jobs I was doing.

Helpful Household Hint for Ada developers: I could easily get my boss to
sign almost any purchase order under $1500 because that was the level he
was authorized to spend without any review up the pipe. Over that amount
and I'd get told "no" simply because he didn't want to go through the
hassle for stuff that I just wanted and had no "project won't work
unless..." justification lined up. (The project had better have been
pretty important too. Couldn't just be a sideline job.) So it would pay
to find out what that price point is for many larger potential customers
and structure products & services to be under that point. Its easier to
sell individual bite sized pieces than it is to sell the whole lump.

MDC
--
=============================================================
Marin David Condic   - Quadrus Corporation -   1.800.555.3393
1015-116 Atlantic Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
http://www.quadruscorp.com/

Visit my web site at:  http://www.mcondic.com/

"Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin."
        --  Allan Meltzer, Economist
=============================================================



Thu, 11 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

Quote:
> It would seem to me that it might pay to "segment the market" here.
> There are tiers of customers with varying levels of support needed. Some
> might simply need questions answered and advice on how to use the
> product to achieve their objectives. (I've fallen into this category
> many times!) Others might need that sort of technical support plus new
> releases as soon as they are available. Still others might need all of
> that plus bug fixes & enhancements on demand. Also, some projects are
> very small (one person) while others could be quite large and long
> lived. Structuring support contracts to try to capture each of those
> segments makes business sense.

I believe the relatively high cost of support for GNAT for small projects is
an indication that ACT is not "hungry" for paying customers.  I view this as
a sign that Ada Core is a healthy company.

As ACT representatives will tell you, their cost is not high when compared
to similar products used in industry.

SteveD



Thu, 11 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

| I have recently made enquiries about using GNAT for a small project (typically
| only 1 programmer) and was staggered to find out the support costs. Really
| I was just after buying a product that I knew I would get new releases for
| as and when they came out and feel like I'm not just using a product for free.

Whatever is wrong with the public version of the GNAT compiler?

| Does anyone have any recommendations of cheaper compilers that cater for
| small projects?

Yes the public version of that compiler. Of course _I_ would also
recommend you to release the project under the (L)GPL licence :-)

--

         "Det eneste trygge stedet i verden er inne i en fortelling."
                                                      -- Athol Fugard



Fri, 12 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs
Quote:

> I believe the relatively high cost of support for GNAT for small projects is
> an indication that ACT is not "hungry" for paying customers.  I view this as
> a sign that Ada Core is a healthy company.

Or, they have made a strategic decision to address only the "high end"
of the market. (Rolls Royce did not market a Yugo-esque vehicle, eh?) I
can understand how someone would decide that the small projects & little
guys will not generate enough revenue to make it worth the time you will
put in supporting them.

Without having a set of numbers to work with, I couldn't possibly say
with any certainty if it would pay to try to provide lesser levels of
support. What I *could* say is this: When I was at Pratt & Whitney, we
might have paid the large cost of ACT support for an embedded compiler
(A market they are not addressing - at least not from my experience.
Things may be changing since last it was an issue for me.) for an engine
control or similar "mission critical" products. We would not consider
that sort of price tag for compilers we were using to build support
tools on PCs & Workstations. We would simply live with the bugs & find
ways around them while developing in-house experience on how to get the
compiler to do what we wanted. Had ACT been able to offer me "X hours of
telephone support for $1000" I might have been able to get that kind of
money and certainly could have used it. I could not justify the full-up
price tag and didn't need all of the services. (Updates and bug-fixes
for a compiler that basically already works well just wouldn't make
sense for building support tools.)

ACT may have decided they didn't want that business, but that doesn't
mean there aren't lots of people who would be willing to give that
business to *someone*. The question would be if that segment of the
market can be addressed in a way that is profitable.

MDC
--
=============================================================
Marin David Condic   - Quadrus Corporation -   1.800.555.3393
1015-116 Atlantic Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
http://www.quadruscorp.com/

Visit my web site at:  http://www.mcondic.com/

"Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin."
        --  Allan Meltzer, Economist
=============================================================



Fri, 12 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs


Quote:

>> Does anyone have any recommendations of cheaper compilers that cater
>> for small projects?

>Aonix, perhaps?

Who knows how long Aonix will be viable for Ada compilers. They just
fired most of the people with any experience in Ada and closed down
the Burlington office where all the Wintel work is done.  Word is
that Aonix even fired their president and others from the old Ada
group.  So, "Aonix, perhaps," but I would not count on it.

Low-cost compilers?  Only GNAT is completed with all the libaries.
Janus from RR Software is pretty good if you can live without some
of the libraries and a few features such as requeue, ATC, and other
seldom-used features. Stoneybrook Software makes the Ada compiler
being used for Sage-ST  (formerly AdaSage), and it produces pretty
efficient code.  Stoneybrook Ada, like Janus, is missing some of
the Ada 95 features.  Rational apparently decided not to upgrade
Meridian to Ada 95.  Maybe Averstar will decide to package its Ada
compiler and sell it in shrinkwrap form if Aonix gets out of the
Ada business.  

Ada compiler publishing is an expensive business. ACT is discovering
the economics of it and responding appropriately.  In fact, any
company that relies on compilers for its revenue is likely to find
the markeplace small.  Borland found out about that before it went
through its restructuring.  Ada is a very tiny marketplace.  To make
money in software one can either raise prices to meet the small
demand for product or have a product (such as Quicken) for which the
demand is so high the unit price can be small.  It is very difficult
to fault ACT for its pricing given the small marketplace demanding a
high quality product.  Now if Ada were as popular as Java or C++ ...

Richard Riehle



Fri, 12 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

Quote:
> the Ada 95 features.  Rational apparently decided not to upgrade
> Meridian to Ada 95.  Maybe Averstar will decide to package its Ada
> compiler and sell it in shrinkwrap form if Aonix gets out of the
> Ada business.

Actually I think Rational sold the rights to the old Merdian stuff.
For a while it was used (I believe) as the front end to the old
Ada 83 stuff for Green Hills (they have now dumped it for an
 AdaMagic Ada95 front end).

Rational has updated their Apex environment to support Ada 95. I am
not sure how many of the Annexes they support.



Fri, 12 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs
Thanks for the replies. I think I will stick with using GNAT because it does
seem to be a very good product. Of course I've been using it regularly for
the last few months and on/off for a couple of years before that and it
seems to do everything I need.

I just feel its a shame that ACT don't want to deal with that side of the
business. Not exactly encouraging people to use Ada rather than C++ or
whatever. The end customer may still opt for the support. If not then I
suspect it will be used as a last resort!

If ACT is reading then I would certainly be interested in the justification
for not offering a two-tier level of support, or at least supporting less
users - I mean 10! I'm on a long term support contract for a Nuclear Power
Station control system and that doesn't even need 10 of us!

Rob Kirkbride
--



Fri, 12 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs


Quote:
> Who knows how long Aonix will be viable for Ada compilers. They just
> fired most of the people with any experience in Ada and closed down
> the Burlington office where all the Wintel work is done.  Word is
> that Aonix even fired their president and others from the old Ada
> group.  So, "Aonix, perhaps," but I would not count on it.

Well, I wouldn't go quite that far.  The owners did replace the executive
management, for reasons unrelated to Ada.

And they did shut down the Burlington office, but there were only 5 of us Ada
junkies left there.  Most of the remaining Ada work has been done in San
Diego, and will continue to be, along with the UK and France.  So, they're
probably still viable.  They certainly didn't fire most of the people with
Ada experience.  Though they probably lost some by getting rid of Dave Kehs,
Ben Brosgol and myself.  But there are still a pretty fair number of others
around to carry the torch, if the company is willing.

It was a purely financial decision.  Your bosses should have bought more
compilers ;-)

- Ed
Ex-Aonix

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.



Sat, 13 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs



Quote:
> If ACT is reading then I would certainly be interested in the
justification
> for not offering a two-tier level of support, or at least supporting less
> users - I mean 10! I'm on a long term support contract for a Nuclear Power
> Station control system and that doesn't even need 10 of us!

Ok, here there is something wrong! Are you in the businness of writing good
code, with lot of comments and do you spent lot of time in desing ?

If so, then I do understand that you don't need 10 peoples :)

To increase the Ada business we all ough to start right now to write bad
code with
no comment at all and a lot of "trick"! You know these little things that
save you some
seconds but that will increase by 2 the maintenace cost :) And then you'll
see that
the first ACT contract (for 10 peoples) will be very very attractive :)

Pascal.

--

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Sat, 13 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs

Quote:

> Thanks for the replies. I think I will stick with using GNAT because it does
> seem to be a very good product. Of course I've been using it regularly for
> the last few months and on/off for a couple of years before that and it
> seems to do everything I need.

> I just feel its a shame that ACT don't want to deal with that side of the
> business. Not exactly encouraging people to use Ada rather than C++ or
> whatever. The end customer may still opt for the support. If not then I
> suspect it will be used as a last resort!

This implies that you can get the level of support you are interested
in for a C++ compiler for less than what ACT charges for Ada. Can you be
specific about what you can get?

The last I checked, being able to ask questions of Microsoft
engineers, and get real answers, wasn't even on the price list! MS
sells "developer subscriptions" or something like that, for about
$2k/year, but that does _not_ include real question/answer support
(please tell me I'm wrong?).

Does Borland offer something better?

-- Stephe



Mon, 15 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 GNAT Support Costs


Quote:

> > Thanks for the replies. I think I will stick with using GNAT because it
does
> > seem to be a very good product. Of course I've been using it regularly
for
> > the last few months and on/off for a couple of years before that and it
> > seems to do everything I need.

> > I just feel its a shame that ACT don't want to deal with that side of
the
> > business. Not exactly encouraging people to use Ada rather than C++ or
> > whatever. The end customer may still opt for the support. If not then I
> > suspect it will be used as a last resort!

> This implies that you can get the level of support you are interested
> in for a C++ compiler for less than what ACT charges for Ada. Can you be
> specific about what you can get?

> The last I checked, being able to ask questions of Microsoft
> engineers, and get real answers, wasn't even on the price list! MS
> sells "developer subscriptions" or something like that, for about
> $2k/year, but that does _not_ include real question/answer support
> (please tell me I'm wrong?).

> Does Borland offer something better?

> -- Stephe

I feel as if some people are missing the point.I agree some people would
like/need all that support. ACT offer services such as helping with
performance, porting from Ada 83 etc. I also don't need help with Ada - I've
been using it for years.
For the project I am on at the moment all that support is just not required.
I would like just to buy a compiler, if I find bugs I would like to be able
to report them. If a fix exists I would like to take that fix. I also don't
need a support infrastructure to support 10 different people.
I agree about Microsoft, oh you've found a bug, if you just buy the next
version its fixed (several other things broken of course). I'm not
suggesting it should be the price of an C++ compiler, just that the support
costs have some sort of sliding scale depending on the number of users and
the support required. As I'm from the UK I know that British Aerospace use
the product, thats great and I sure they find the support and costs fine.
Indeed the support that is offered looks very impressive.

Of course its still possible the end customer will sting for the cost as
they are interested in the long term future of all the rest of the legacy
code and what they might do in a few years when they want to upgrade the
hardware, but thats not the issue here.

Rob



Tue, 16 Jul 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 
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