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Borland tool said to link development, deployment

Borland Software moved late last week to expand its application life-cycle management (ALM) strategy by unveiling a new infrastructure management offering designed to bridge the gap between development and deployment. On Friday, the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based toolmaker launched Deployment Op-Center.

''Op-Center is designed to reduce the complexity and high operational overheads associated with controlling the availability and continued 'health' of software infrastructure, applications and services in modern, highly distributed and heterogeneous IT environments,'' said Moty Aharonovitz, Borland senior product manager. ''Basically, we have extended our view to be much more holistic. Now we see the rollout process as part of the overall life cycle of applications.''

That holistic view can lead to the development of a formalized mechanism for the transfer of deployment-related information from development to deployment teams, Aharonovitz said. Op-Center includes an XML-based, template-driven user interface to assist in the collaboration between the two teams, allowing developers to document core application deployment requirements for distribution and configuration.

Op-Center is said to offer IT managers centralized automation and control over an organization's infrastructure applications through such features as:

* IT Inventory management for modeling and mapping models to define logical and physical associations between applications and infrastructure resources;

* Application infrastructure configuration management of middleware (J2EE, .NET and CORBA), messaging (Tibco, SonicMQ), Web servers and database servers;

* Automatic failure detection, isolation and recovery via configuration templates that provide developers with a mechanism to document critical deployment information; and

* SNMP-based connectivity with network and system management products (i.e., HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli).

Op-Center is said to provide a visual way of managing infrastructure applications. Toward that end, the tool delivers a single console to view application resources deployed on multiple hosts and multiple sites, Aharonovitz explained. This intuitive GUI is designed to give IT managers an easier-to-navigate hierarchical model that helps them to understand the logical and physical structures of complex deployed configurations.

''The idea was to simplify these complex workflows and configuration processes that require very specialized and extensive knowledge, which increases risk to the organization,'' Aharonovitz said.

Borland began nearly two years ago to integrate its tools and technologies with acquired products to create development environments equipped to handle all aspects of application development, from the planning and requirements-gathering stages, through development and testing -- the application life cycle according to Borland.

Expanding the definition of ALM to include application deployment and management makes sense to Meta Group analyst Thomas Murphy. The increasing complexity and distributed nature of apps makes it more difficult to isolate and fix failures and to ensure app availability, he said. Deploying and managing applications today is simply a much bigger and more complex job than it used to be. ''Traditionally, solving this problem has required specialized and expensive skills with complicated manual processes,'' Murphy said. ''In addition, there is a growing need to enable improved communications between the development and operations staff, extending ALM from a development viewpoint to encompass deployment and management.''

In its 2002 report, Leaping to Intelligent Configuration Management , Meta identified a new market category for infrastructure software management, which it called Intelligent Configuration Management (ICM). Meta expects ICM to become a major component of most Global 2000 infrastructure and application management environments by 2007. And it believes that the challenges associated with infrastructure software management are being heightened by the advent of grid computing environments and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs).

Op-Center is about the configuration and deploying of applications in such environments, Borland's Aharonovitz said. ''The distinction that I'm making here is critical. Op-Center is not part of the grid computing space, but it does support the adoption of these trends.''

Op-Center is a cross-platform solution designed to handle applications on both J2EE and .NET platforms, but Borland also made sure to include support for CORBA. Borland has a large installed base of VisiBroker customers who need to manage existing mission-critical CORBA applications in production, Aharonovitz said, specifically within the telco and financial services markets.

''Many people think CORBA is essentially dead or not relevant,'' he said, ''but our customers are telling us that they will continue to use CORBA for at least five to 10 years. It's working, it's reliable and they're not interested in changing it. We have thousands of customers deploying mission-critical applications on top of our VisiBroker technology. Our strategy is to honor their commitment to CORBA and to provide them with the mechanism to facilitate effective management and monitoring of these technologies.''

Deployment Op-Center is the latest addition to Borland's growing family of deployment products, which includes Janeva, a solution for integrating .NET-based applications with J2EE- and CORBA-based back-end systems, introduced last May; and the newly enhanced Borland Enterprise Server, which was unveiled last Friday. Op-Center is available now on Windows, Solaris and Linux platforms.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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