TogetherSoft in, Borland out, in WebGain deal

How suite it is

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

A buyer has emerged for WebGain's Inc's Java development environment, but uncertainty still surrounds the suite's future,

Gavin Clarke writes

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TogetherSoft Corp has snapped-up the WebGain's Studio integrated development environment (IDE) from San Jose, California-based WebGain in a deal completed Friday. The price was not disclosed.

The deal means Raleigh, North Carolina-based TogetherSoft gets its hands on Visual Café, Structure Builder, Business Designer and Quality Analyzer.

Sources, who wished to remain anonymous, told Computerwire TogetherSoft beat Java tools rival Scotts Valley, California-based Borland Software Corp to clinch the deal. Another un-identified vendor was also believed to be in contention for WebGain Studio.

Borland senior vice president of software products Frank Slootman confirmed talks took place with WebGain, but did not provide details. "There are conversations always going on," he said.

ComputerWire broke the story of WebGain's decision to exit tools and sell its Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) mapping software to Oracle Corp in June. Despite the deal with TogetherSoft, uncertainty over WebGain Studio's future will persist at least into next year.

TogetherSoft said Monday it will provide existing WebGain Studio customers a migration path onto its TogetherSoft ControlCenter development suite. The company, meanwhile, is examining which features of this version and the next planned version of WebGain Studio - version 7.0 - to bring into ControlCenter.

A TogetherSoft spokesperson said: "We are considering future research and development [of WebGain Studio 7.0]. We may decide to launch it or integrate it with our existing product." WebGain Studio 7.0 is expected "sometime next year", WebGain said.

It is thought highly unlikely TogetherSoft will plough valuable research and development dollars into WebGain Studio 7.0, the first full Java version of WebGain's IDE. WebGain Studio 7.0 development costs - set against an increasingly competitive and cost-conscious environment - actually helped break WebGain's back in the first place.

TogetherSoft said it plans to sell WebGain 4.5 and offer customers support, although it is not buying any former WebGain staff under the deal. TogetherSoft will rely on approximately 12 former WebGain staffers recruited before Friday's deal.

TogetherSoft will instead use WebGain to help it jump up the league-table of Java IDEs, by buying market share. Analyst GartnerGroup estimates WebStudio's market share around 20%.

The TogetherSoft spokesperson said the company can use WebGain's IDE to help sell ControlCenter. The deal also tightly integrates TogetherSoft with San Jose, California-based BEA Systems Inc's WebLogic Workshop development environment.

TogetherSoft is already a BEA partner, but the WebGain Studio 7.0 code is tightly optimized to WebLogic Workshop.

Despite missing out WebGain, Borland is quietly rubbing its hands. Slootman said TogetherSoft had simply bought a customer list. He added, though, customers would not automatically switch to TogetherSoft creating an opportunity for Borland.

"This doesn't necessarily give [TogetherSoft] the inside track to picking up customers. [ControlCenter] has limited appeal to a broad market," Slootman said.

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