Borland advances ALM goals

Borland Software Corp. plans to detail several key pieces of its ALM (application life cycle management) strategy at its BorCon developer conference this week in San Jose, California.

One week after Microsoft Corp. touted several forthcoming tools at its own developer conference, Borland will introduce upgraded products and will explain how these new iterations will fit into the ALM initiative.

The company will debut ECO (Enterprise Core Objects), a run-time platform for creating and maintaining model-driven applications. The ECO technology is built into Borland's Delphi 8 for Microsoft .Net Framework and C#Builder for the Microsoft .Net Framework Architect Edition. ECO automates several steps that are manual in the MDA (Model Driven Architecture) process.

The new Delphi 8 for the Microsoft .Net Framework, designed for building .Net Framework applications and migrating existing Delphi applications to .Net, will also be announced at BorCon.

Borland also plans to show off enhancements to its Enterprise Studio for Java, in which the modeling environment runs within the IDE (integrated development environment). This latest version of Enterprise Studio for Java includes tighter integration of the Together tools and JBuilder X.

"Borland has assembled a set of first-rate tools," said Jim Duggan, a Gartner analyst. "Its challenge will be to sell them as well as Rational has."

Other tools vendors are embracing the concept of ALM. Through its acquisition of Rational Software Corp., IBM Corp. now offers several life-cycle-centric wares, including the IBM Rational Suite and the Rational Unified Process. Compuware Corp. also offers life cycle tools, as does BEA Systems Inc. via a pact with Compuware. A host of smaller vendors sell ALM tools.

Borland said that one of the most important things it can offer that competitors do not is platform neutrality.

Rational has traditionally straddled the same fence between Windows and Java contingencies. But since Rational was acquired by IBM, analysts have expressed doubt that it will remain truly independent of IBM. At the very least, it will be difficult for Rational to be as independent from IBM's platform as Borland is from all the major platforms.

Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, questioned whether platform independence is a boon to developers in the grand scheme of ALM.

"To have a separate development platform and a separate portal platform ... is becoming less and less attractive to developers," Schmelzer said.

John Lin, product manager at Immunicode, which makes tools that function with Visual Studio, said he uses Borland's JBuilder product for Java development. Lin expressed a mixed opinion on whether Borland's independence helps or hurts. Microsoft benefits by controlling the OS, but Borland is able to focus more on tools, he said.

Paul Krill contributed to this report.

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