Serena CEO

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-08-17 Print this article Print

: Vail is Development for the Non-techie"> Where do you see Serena a year to two from now? Burton: I think we have two businesses. Today we have the application lifecycle management tools to help IT build applications better. But theres an application lifecycle emerging in the business and someones got to manage that, and I think were the only guys in the current ALM space that understands that there is a new application lifecycle emerging
And the beauty of it is that if we can empower the business users, then there are literally thousands if not hundreds of thousands of applications waiting to be built.
So Serena in two or three years I think has two businesses—helping IT build complex apps better, but empowering business users to build their own applications. And, if done right, IT will expose functionality using SOA [service-oriented architecture] and the business will consume those SOA interfaces and use our platform for innovation. What would you do if some bigger company looks at what you have here and says, "I want that"? Burton: I guess it comes down to money. Youve got a fiduciary responsibility, but I think everyone at Serena wants an exciting, growing company thats relevant to the future. I think if were exciting, growing and relevant, we will attract a lot of interest. It would be nice to be in that situation and have a range of options. But right now were busy re-inventing the company. If mashups are the next big thing, which I believe they are, then itd be pretty nice to rise as an independent company. Oracle says they plan to enter the ALM space. Do you think they have a shot? Burton: Yeah, when youve got the amount of resources that Oracle, IBM and Microsoft have, they can probably choose to enter any market that they want. The thing with Oracle that has always been a millstone around their neck is they do a great job in an Oracle environment, but if youre using anything thats not in any way related to Oracle, they really struggle. Thats both a strength and a weakness for them; theyre very Oracle-centric. Oracles entered a number of markets incredibly late. I just think that for them entering the market incredibly late with a very Oracle-centric toolset, youll get some takers, but I think that most folks will probably pass on it. Why do you think companies like Microsoft and others seem to have such a hard time articulating their strategy around software as a service? Burton: They have a lot to lose. Youve got to have the belief that if you dont cannibalize your existing business, somebody else will. And its easy to say that, but to put money where your mouth is and go on and do it is the difficult thing. And Im sure when these things go over from the engineering ranks to the business ranks, as soon as the CFO gets hold of that, it would be done. Bonvanie: With all the guys who are trying to avoid saying SAAS—like SAP, like Oracle, like BEA—if they would go with a model like this thats multi-tenant, theyd have a terrible time getting these things up in an economically responsible way. So even if they were willing to eat the subscription business, theyd go bust. Its very expensive for SAP to put anything in the cloud. So do you think you can give Salesforce a run? Burton: I dont think we compete with Salesforce in any way, shape or form. I think with 600 apps on the AppExchange, we would love to match those up so they can interface with each other and move data between them, because Salesforce will be one service probably out of a thousand out there on the Internet. And folks will want to take functionality out of Salesforce and move it over here to the payroll application or other applications. So we look at them as providing a playground for us to play in. And think folks will pick up Apex and extend Salesforce. I think they will pick up Vail and extend it. But then, if they want to mash up Salesforce with SAP with a bit of functionality in between, the only choices theyve got is to get IT involved or use something like Vail. By accident or design, we happen to have something thats right in the strike zone. And I believe most folks internally, maybe with the exception of the Vail lead developer, didnt realize what they were sitting on top of. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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