Feeds

Borland gambles without developers

From the beginning

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Analysis Anyone hoping Borland Software's decision to exit the integrated development environment (IDE) game will meet the same fate as its plan (subsequently dumped) to re-invent itself as Inprise in 1998, is likely to be sorely disappointed.

Under a new chief executive, ex-Microsoft luminary Tod Neilson, Borland has finally accepted the inevitable and decided it cannot make money from IDEs.

Open source, particularly Eclipse, has made it impossible for ISVs to sell and make money from IDEs. What's in question is the boldness of Borland's strategy.

Borland would have you believe this move is a continuation of its vision towards Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). The decision to exit the IDE market, combined with the $100m acquisition of Segue Software, means Borland has decided to focus its entire business growth on the performance and testing portion of ALM, instead of providing the tools to help people build applications in the first place.

Borland has been moving towards what it describes as "software delivery optimization (SDO)". Translated, that means helping non-IT staff tune applications to meet their businesses' needs. Under that strategy, Borland has made acquisitions in processes, services, and in IT project management, to help refine the way applications are built and give business managers tools that provide greater insight into how applications and whole ALM teams are performing in terms of budget, cost and deadlines.

Borland's decision to divest the IDE, though, adds a strong element of risk to SDO and removes a strategic differentiator. By selling off its IDEs, Borland is surrendering the tools' development roadmap and leaving the degree to which the IDEs will finally integrate with Borland's performance and testing portfolio open to question.

That's good if you want to be seen as "tools agnostic", but bad if you had any hopes of leveraging an existing customer base to drive business growth in future. The latter is a strategy Borland could have used: maximizing its presence in Java with JBuilder and its influential position behind Microsoft on Windows with Delphi to grow.

The opposite example is IBM/Rational. The company may have created Eclipse and decided to push into performance and management tools, but the company recognized the strategic importance of holding onto the actual IDE's development. Holding on means continued influence over IDE's roadmap - thereby shaping the features and taking the rough edges off Eclipse. It also ensures a seat at the industry negotiating table and continued leverage against the big platform bullies, like Microsoft.

Instead, Borland says it "fully expects" to work closely with the IDE buyer to continue maintaining and advancing integration with the company's remaining ALM tools.

Secondly, by pitching into application performance and testing, Borland is going up against companies like Mercury Interactive and, again, IBM. By holding back its IDEs, though, Borland could have played on a unique competitive advantage: it offered the ability to optimize code developed using its tools.

Borland could have worked from a unique position of power; by helping entire ALM teams turn out completely optimized stacks of Java and Windows code.

Borland's IDE spinout and acquisition of Segue is a stake in the ground. The company has decided to go all out on the performance and optimization of code generated by tools, not just those from Borland, while appealing to customers who are not inside Borland's traditional user base. That means individuals with more of a business or systems administration background rather than coders.

Borland was right to elevate its business beyond developing and charging for IDEs. However, the company has left a large and influential group of users hanging.

The future is now open for IBM/Rational, Oracle on Eclipse/Java, and for Microsoft on Windows to pick up those developers who'd loyaly stuck with Borland, while Borland seeks to make itself relevant to the market all over again. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.