Borland ponders strategy for 2003 and 2004

Getting closer to Microsoft

ComputerWire logo Borland Software Corp executives will spend the next three months evaluating the impact of recent acquisitions and plot strategic goals for the company, to be executed in the next two years, writes Gavin Clarke.

Fred Ball, Borland vice president of corporate development and mergers and acquisitions, told ComputerWire that Borland will "validate" its recent activities during the first quarter of 2003. Goals will also be set for further "aggressive" activity.

Ball did not say what that activity would be, but hinted this could include product launches to simplify application development. One additional area could be further acquisitions, to help build-out the application lifecycle capabilities of its tools.

Ball spoke as the Scotts Valley, California-based company integrates TogetherSoft Corp, Starbase Corp and BoldSoft MDE AB, whose acquisitions were announced in rapid succession late last year. The company last week announced it had completed its Starbase deal and received the green light from the state of California to buy TogetherSoft.

These acquisitions are designed to make Borland's Java and .NET development environments more appealing to developers. The deals help ensure that Java and Windows developers use just Borland's integrated development environments (IDEs) for application lifecycle management, as far as they possibly can - without resorting to products of competitors or partners to fill gaps.

Borland is likely to spend early 2003 integrating these companies' staff, structure and products according to company chief executive Dale Fuller. That, coupled with Ball's comments, suggests Borland is unlikely to announce any acquisitions during the middle of 2003 - although talks may take place.

Ball said, though, a last minute deal could be squeezed out as the Starbase acquisition was in discussion for a year before last Fall's announcement.

In the meantime, Borland will deliver on products for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp's .NET strategy. Borland will this summer launch its long-awaited .NET Development Environment.

Borland will also use the coming months to foster its relationship with partner Microsoft. That company last year lost a major ally in Rational Software Corp, whose $2.1bn acquisition was announced by IBM. Rational's application design and lifecycle management tools and expertise will now be more closely aligned with IBM and Java.

Ball noted Borland, which now possesses an alternative to Rational through its TogtherSoft deal, has begun to enjoy a closer relationship with Microsoft as a result of IBM's proposed acquisition. "After the Rational acquisition happened, we called [Microsoft] up and asked how we could help them. We got access a lot quicker," Ball said.

However, he ruled-out the possibility of Microsoft's acquisition of Borland adding his colleagues were not running the company in preparation for this eventuality.

Instead, Borland will spend the next three months in an annual review of future activities and opportunities designed to grow the company Ball said. These deliberations should map out objectives beginning in late 2003 and 2004, when Borland will step up activities.

"Our process is to go through a strategic effort in the first quarter and validate our activities, then late in 2003 and 2004 we will... become more aggressive again," Ball said.

He did not provide details of future activities, but hinted one direction could be high-level abstraction of programming code in its IDEs, emulating partner BEA Systems Inc's WebLogic Workshop for Java web services. Improvements could also be made on performance and development for mobile devices.

"There are a bunch of different places we could go. We just need to coalesce them," Ball said.

© ComputerWire

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