SDL’s Project Affinity was originally positioned as SDL’s long-term plan to  replace SDL TMS and to rebuild its other products on a modern framework called the Common Enterprise Application Framework (CEAF).

The multi-year Project Affinity undertaking has quietly transformed as the company recognized customer needs for continuity in what have become increasingly business-critical large applications built around SDL TMS and WorldServer. What’s changed?

  • SDL TMS and Idiom WorldServer will survive. Rather than being replaced by a future CEAF-based product, both of these workhorse translation management systems will continue to be marketed, sold, enhanced, and supported. In fact, WorldServer has a new release scheduled for February delivery, and SDL plans a global tour to re-launch the product. Elsewhere, a new entry-level Project Server will replace Synergy and TeamWorks for language service providers and lighter-duty global content applications.
  • Project Affinity morphed into a set of technologies. SDL’s ambitious development effort has become a platform on which the company will build future versions of its current SDL TMS and WorldServer products. The company will incrementally replace core components such as file filters and translation memory with common services to be used by both these systems. While the appearance and operations of TMS and WorldServer may differ, the innards will increasingly be common components.
  • The company appointed a chief technology officer. SDL will also share core libraries such as as its new Carbon UI user interface library across its four product lines (language, web content management, structured content, and e-commerce). As the company consolidates such technologies, it saw the need for an executive who can leverage investment across multiple product lines — Dennis van der Veeke will fill that role. Language Weaver’s founder and CTO Daniel Marcu will extend his role to include future CEAF functionality, and senior VP of Products and Marketing Swamy Viswanathan will oversee the Project Affinity work.

Why did SDL scrap its plans to replace TMS and WorldServer with a future translation management technology? Chalk that up to reality. The company has around 175 customers in various stages of TMS and WorldServer deployment, some deeply embedded in corporate workflow, including heavyweight users such as Cisco, Dell, and HP. These systems have become business-critical applications, essential to the ability of these companies to field global websites, support, technical publications, and marketing efforts. As we noted upon WorldServer’s reprieve last year, a rip-and-replace strategy would levy a tax on customers in the form of time, money, and lost market opportunity as they would have diverted resources to replace working applications with new technology.

What does this mean for TMS and WorldServer users? It’s great news, but unfortunately later than it should have been. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight and new management, SDL now sees the value of both its own TMS and WorldServer brands — something that was clear to many WorldServer users when SDL acquired Idiom (see “SDL Acquires Idiom. Now What?” Feb08).

See: Global Watchtower™