Borland Shifts Gears
- By John K. Waters
Yes, it's true: Borland Software will
not be divesting itself of its developer-tools assets, collectively known since
the company put them up for sale in February as DevCo. Those assets, both
technological and human, will be spun off into a wholly owned subsidiary,
henceforth known as CodeGear
. To the many hardcore fans of the company's IDEs, that should probably be
Few companies in Silicon Valley have been as interesting to watch over the
years, from both a technological and business standpoint, as Borland. (And
brothers and sisters, that's saying something.) We profiled the company in
2003, and I had the opportunity to talk with the previous CEO, Dale Fuller, who
was actually brought in to chop the then ailing then-Inprise into bite-sized
pieces. Fuller and his team ended up keeping the company whole, changing the
name back to Borland, revitalizing old product lines, and presiding over the
company's first moves into the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) market.
''This company had extremely loyal customers who had made a choice to stick with
it, even when the last administration said we don’t want you anymore,'' Fuller
told me. ''I think that’s a real testament to the technology that was built
here, and the technologists who built it.''
Now another slice-and-dice plan has been set aside. I'm beginning to wonder
if supernatural forces are at work here. (I can envision Borland's bewhiskered
evangelist David Intersimone—now at CodeGear—in a pointed hat and robe, casting
spells in a backroom somewhere.)
To be precise, Borland-the-ALM-company is still separating itself from the
dev-tool operation, Borland's chief marketing officer, Rick Jackson, reminded me
for our news story on the plan. As we reported, the ALM operation will be
headquartered in Cupertino, while the tools operation is already ensconced in
Borland's old Scotts Valley campus.
''We're so happy to have a decision,'' Jackson said, ''to have clarity that
allows both Borland and CodeGear to move forward. Now it's about two companies,
focused and driving innovation in their markets. And that will be a refreshing
I had a chance to talk with two of the newly appointed CodeGear execs last
week: Former Borlanders Joe McGlynn, now JBuilder product manager, and Michael
Swindell, now VP of products and strategies. Apparently, not that much has
changed in Scotts Valley.
''We're going to be doing exactly the same things we set out to do at the
beginning of the year,'' Swindell said. ''The only difference is that Borland is
Swindell said it was clear to all concerned that the two businesses needed to
be separated. ''There's so much happening in the development tools space,'' he
said. ''So many new technologies, platforms, languages. In order for us to
address those things effectively, we needed to get away from this split focus
we've had for the past few years.''
Split focus or not, the tools guys have been busy. In August, they released
the new ''Turbo'' product line, and they're set to release the much anticipated
Eclipse-based JBuilder 2007, formerly code-named ''Peloton.''
''What we've seen in the past couple of years is an evolution in the Java
enterprise space toward open source and Eclipse,'' said Swindell, in the
understatement of the decade. ''And our JBuilder customers have been locked out
of that, because JBuilder was based on the PrimeTime core. That's a great IDE
core, but it's not Eclipse-compatible. In this release, that changes.''
The latest incarnation of the venerable IDE is built on the Eclipse tooling
framework. It comes with Visual EJB support, Web services GUIs, and Java 5
Enterprise functionality, to provides, McGlynn explained, a highly productive
drag-and-drop environment. It also comes with the TeamInsight collaboration
portal, which is designed to let organizations leverage best-of-breed solutions
for source-code management, requirements, bug tracking, and project management.
The company promises that JBuilder 2006 customers will be able to migrate their
existing applications easily to the new Eclipse-based IDE.
The CodeGear team won't be limiting itself to developing tools for Java, .NET, C++, Delphi, or
C#, Swindell said. The new company will be looking to build products for a broad
spectrum of languages, tools, libraries, and components. (Think Ajax, Ruby,
I suspect that, even as they pursue different product
lines and business strategies, Borland and CodeGear will benefit from their
close connection. After all, the IDE is the dashboard for ALM, Gartner analyst
Thomas Murphy observed. ''When you think about ALM, the idea is to drive everything to the IDE,''
he said. ''That's what people are familiar with. My question is,
what's Borland's identity if you take away their IDE? What's the portal that you
In fact, McGlynn pointed out, JBuilder 2007 is designed to integrate with
Borland's ALM products, including Together and StarTeam, which are also based on
JBuilder 2007 is scheduled to go GA later this quarter. More info on system requirements,
languages, and pricing, is available on the JBuilder page.
BTW: The operation in Scotts Valley may be up and running, but
there's no need to rush to the CodeGear website; it's still ''in transition,'' which
means there's nothing there yet.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached