Conversation with the RCI Desk at Reynolds and Reynolds

I recently had a request from a company to find out the current status of Reynolds’ approach to 3rd-party data access. Basically I found out that Reynolds decided to move from a telnet client to what this gentleman said was a “proprietary connection”.

In a nutshell ERALink is out and ERAccess is in, and it has been for some time apparently (I haven’t had a Reynolds client in a while). ERALink I believe, was really only intended for remote access (a telnet client) and the nice gentleman at Reynolds told me that now everyone that accesses ERA XT and ERA XTD systems uses ERAccess.

From the outset the Reynolds person knew that I developed custom Intranet (Sharepoint and others) solutions for automobile dealer groups. He knew I only needed to pull data and that there would never be any write-back to the DMS. Yet he steered me away from the RCI program and said that ERAccess was the way to go.

I’ve used ERALink and their Query Builder software extensively in the past and I really hoped that it wasn’t their best solution for a custom programmer like me, so I pushed on.

I asked what the RCI program provided to the 3rd-party vendor; he said that it was really for the guys that needed bi-directional read-write continuous access to the DMS. I said, “cool, but what do you offer? An ADO.Net data provider, XML Engine, what?” He said, “a set of XML APIs that will return the entire record associated with a data object (say a car or transaction) with no filtering ability.” He was really selling me on it NOT being for me.

So I said “ok, I send you a SOAP-like request and you send back some XML.” He said “yes”. I said “sounds like ADP’s DAP program” and I mentioned the Integration Points ADP has defined and I asked if they had a similar deal. He said “yes”.

So then I said, “well I really would love to have an easier time of it than using ERAccess and QueryBuilder so how much would that be?” Of course he wouldn’t say, but he did say that I, as the developer, would be assessed a one-time up-front certification fee and a per dealer installation and monthly fee. I said “what’s the certification fee, about $10,000?” He said “that would be the bottom end, it most likely would be more.”

I told him I was just a little guy developing important custom solutions for Auto Dealers. He said use ERAccess and Query Builder. I yawned.

Interestingly though, he did say that there were 3rd party vendors writing back to the DMS without Reynolds Certification (i.e. hacking) and that surprised me. I also learned that Reynolds is still using the PICK DBMS which is now called IBM UniVerse. Sheepishly he confided that UniVerse was state of the art in 1984 and I said “that’s alright ADP uses the same thing!.”

Until next time….