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Borland unveils SDO strategy

Borland Software unveiled the next phase of its product strategy at its annual user conference, held in San Jose, Calif., last week. With that strategy -- dubbed Software Delivery Optimization (SDO) -- the historically developer-focused toolmaker is turning its sights toward the business needs and "pain points" of management.

"We're looking at two sides of the coin," says Boz Elloy, Borland's SVP of software products. "One is doing software right; the other is doing the right software. The most leverageable, scalable, performant bits in the world are fundamentally irrelevant if they don't drive business value."

The company began about two years ago to integrate its tools and technologies with products it acquired to create environments equipped to handle all aspects of application development, from the planning and requirements-gathering stages, through development and testing -- the application life cycle (ALM).

Borland's SDO initiative is the next step in an evolution of development tools that lead to ALM, Elloy tells eADT in a post-keynote interview. It is designed to "transform software development from an unpredictable art form into a manageable and repeatable business process.

"Software is not managed as a business today, but it is a business activity and it should be," Elloy says. "In a way, we are like the cobbler's children who have no shoes. Software is used to optimize every other business process in the world, yet nothing has been done about our software process. We'll be the last people to get this level of maturity in our business processes because we spent all of our time maturing everyone else's."

SDO represents another departure for Borland in that it is not a product-centric initiative, Elloy notes. "We are looking at things from a pain-point removal perspective by role," he explains. "We get the functionality from wherever we need to get it, and then we apply it to take out those pain points."

Borland plans to implement its SDO strategy through a series of projects aimed at delivering subsets of functionality for specific roles within an organization. The fruits of those projects will show up as specific tooling designed for each role, Elloy says. Named for titans from Greek mythology, those projects include Themis, which is about integrated automation for all roles and all platforms for software creation; Hyperion, which is about the visibility and predictability aspect of software creation; and Prometheus, which is about managing software like a business.

All three will provide roles-based access to Borland's ALM tools, along with process management, portal and business intelligence features designed to provide greater control over, and improved visibility into, all stages of the development process.

Themis, which Elloy says has been "baking for almost a year," is slated for delivery in the first half of 2005.

Quoting the Standish Group during his keynote, Elloy notes that 30% of software projects are cancelled, 44% are too expensive, 60% are not considered a success by the business, and 90% are delivered late.

"The Software Delivery Optimization vision incrementally bridges the gaps between management, software development and operations by automating business and software development processes, so that traditional complexities become transparent," said Meta analyst Tom Murphy in a statement. "If executed on correctly, this strategy may do for software development what ERP did to the process of manufacturing."

"SDO is the next logical step in the evolution of the software industry," Borland's Elloy says, "and it's an evolution of what we've been good at as a company."

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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