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Borland: The view from the top


Tim Anderson quizzes Borlandís Chief Executive Officer Dale Fuller and its Chief Technology Officer Blake Stone

Part 1: Windows vs Java

Part 2: JBuilder, Eclipse, C++, Delphi

Part 3: MDA, UML, Web services, Linux

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Windows versus Java

Tim: Borland started with DOS and Windows, but Java has come from nothing to be, I would guess, the largest part of your business now. What pattern do you see in terms of Windows versus Java development, over the next few years?

Dale: If you look at the trend that is happening in the Enterprise today, there are two major pieces today. Clearly Java is becoming the standard within enterprises doing n-tier architecture. Thatís taken off like hot cakes, partially because Microsoft had no response to Java. They could not move out of the client architecture.

Dot Net is now the response to that, and Microsoft is trying to bring forward their client side into more of a n-tier architecture. How well that is going to be accepted remains to be seen, but Microsoft own the desktop. So what that means is most companies are going to have both, or have both already. They have to have a way that those two platforms can interact with each other cleanly and efficiently. Thatís where we come in.

What we focus on is how do we integrate. And on top of that there is the legacy. How do I bring forward all the things Iíve already created?

The value that we add for customers is the focus on standards, that you can take everything you use in our products and move to anyone else. Everything you do with Borland technology you can always bring down to code thatís standards-based, you can take it wherever you want and bring forward everything in the past that you need to use.

Tim: Thatís less true on the Windows platform, because Delphi code isnít going to compile on anyone elseís compiler.

Blake: Borland does very well around inflexion points. Thatís points of significant change, where customers make new decisions. If you look at the inflexion point moving from Win16 to Win32. Delphi did phenomenally well, because we built a painless bridge between the two worlds. We gave people component-based development that was ground-breaking at the time, and established a strong customer base. The fact that Java is now a significant piece of our business has nothing to do with an erosion of the Delphi customer base. Thatís been very strong. What it is, is growth. Weíve doubled our revenue in the last 5 years. So Java has been a significant part of that growth, because thatís the next big inflexion point. Now Dot Net represents yet another inflexion point, and again Borland is well positioned to take advantage of that.

Dale: Blakeís point is that we make it easy for customers to move. As we did with Delphi from 16-bit to 32-bit, weíre doing the same thing today with Win32 to .Net, which is why weíre coming out with Delphi for .Net. But at the same time weíre coming out with Delphi for Win32. So regardless of where I need to go as a customer, even if Iím going to stay on Win32 for the next 5 to 10 years, I know Iím safe and secure. Microsoftís not doing that. Theyíre saying ďYouíre moving to .Net and weíre abandoning Win32Ē. We donít have a platform that we get to draw additional revenues from by closing people into a corner.

Blake: An investment in C# code today is a bet that youíre going to see a particular adoption rate on the .Net platform. We know itís going to happen but we donít know how fast itís going to happen. A bet on Delphi code is hedging your bet, because you can compile that code and target Win32 or .Net, and you can manage that transition whenever it occurs.

Tim: Sunís Jonathan Schwartz gave a keynote presentation at BorCon [the Borland Conference in San Jose, November 2003], in which he promoted the Java Desktop System and Project Rave, a non-Borland Java development tool. How did that fit with BorCon?

Dale: Two ways. One, Sun is the founder of the Java world. Itís critical to have the thought leaders here. As for Jon speaking very specifically about their Java desktop platform, thatís their newest direction, so this is a great chance for him to share with the Java community whatís going on. As for him showing Rave, yes for some developers, it can be perceived as competition.

Blake: Rave is really a showcase for JavaServer Faces. We think JavaServer Faces is an exciting direction. But from our perspective, Sun and tools competition just isnít on our radar. Whatís pleasing to see about Rave is that for a change Sun is going ahead and building whatís going to be needed on the tools side to exercise JavaServer Faces and remove some of the problems that might have shown up in production. Theyíre doing a better job of validating JavaServer Faces for us, and we really appreciate the effort theyíre putting into that.

Right now what Sun want is an answer to ASP.Net. Thatís really the core of the exercise.

Next: JBuilder versus Eclipse, Developer communication, and more: click here for part 2

Copyright Tim Anderson 16th November 2003. All rights reserved.

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