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Start-up Synectique

AB - 27/08/2015

Synectique, a start-up exploring complex information systems

Logo Synectique

Carrying out maintenance operations on the labyrinthine and stratified information systems found in large corporations can often prove to be a headache. The start-up company, Synectique, has the capability of exploring this complex world, and can also provide made-to-measure diagnostics and repairs. One of the founders, Stéphane Ducasse, explains.

Can you tell us something of your background?

Stéphane Ducasse : After gaining a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Nice, I spent ten years as an associate lecturer at the University of Berne in Switzerland. I then moved to the University of Savoy for two years before joining the Inria Lille - Nord Europe centre as a Director of Research. I set up the RMoD research team specialising in the remodularisation of object-oriented applications.

What led you to set up Synectique?

Stéphane Ducasse : Many of the information systems used today by large corporations are very complex, having been built up layer by layer over fifteen or twenty years. They are often written in obsolete programming languages and our knowledge and understanding of these has been largely lost over the years. As a result, no-one any longer has a clear view of this maze of code, and this makes it very difficult to maintain and develop, despite the software being essential to the running of the business. Even when applications have been developed using more recent technologies such as Java or C#, their size and complexity presents businesses with significant challenges when the systems need to be developed to meet the changing needs of their customers. Synectique has therefore developed a number of tools to take a form of ‘X-ray’ photograph of an information system, thereby restoring visibility of the system to the business. Our system can zoom in on the system, from the macroscopic to the microscopic scale. But we can do more than just take a snapshot. It is also Synectique’s aim to help businesses work on their systems, and facilitate their development and maintenance.

Stephane Ducasse © INRIA Stephane Ducasse - © Inria

How does your solution work?

Stéphane Ducasse : Our tools are based on MOOSE, an open-source code analysis platform, written in the Pharo language developed by RMoD. MOOSE is a tool that can represent the information content of an information system from a number of different points of view, including the code, the data, the developers and bugs. From this, we can very quickly develop solutions to the specific problems encountered by our customers.


So, you have already tested your solutions on customer systems?

Stéphane Ducasse : Yes. A large insurance company recently wished to migrate all its systems to a new programming language. They asked us for a tool to help them control this massive operation. Not only did our product meet their specification fully, it also revealed that two thirds of their applications were never used and did not therefore need to be migrated, saving them a fortune!


Two years on, how is Synectique developing?

Stéphane Ducasse : We have now tested the usefulness of our products with a number of customers. The results have been very successful, and we are now ready to enter a more production-oriented phase. The i-LAB prize, together with the release of other funding, will enable us to recruit three new employees, including two sales people to help us target potential customers. The coming year is going to be decisive!

Keywords: Pharo Start-up System and software security