By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-07-29 Print this article Print

-free data flow "> And we came up with the notion that we call the friction-free flow of data. And that was the critical element of what we saw was lacking in the industry. How people either had to change their work style or in fact how they had to repeat the same processes multiple, multiple times in order to get from one tool into another tool. And when you take people out of their … almost a stream-of-consciousness workflow, then you increase the risk that they dont do it or they dont do it well. And in our notion of this friction-free flow of data was—in the context of what people were doing, in the context of a developer fixing issues—we need to be able to track what the requirements are, what the test cases are, what code coverage, and whats the quality and those types of things.
And so our first high-order business differentiation was people will use it—that the impeding mismatch between the engineering teams and the management teams, you cant say it goes away but it is drastically smaller. And thats what were seeing in the feedback weve gotten from Tech Ed.
So, having said that, do I think we have an uphill sales model? Yes, but not for that reason. I think we have an uphill sales model because people dont expect this type of tooling from Microsoft. Its much more of an awareness issue, I believe—and thats sort of my mental model—than it is a technology issue or a belief-that-we-can-deliver issue. And what weve seen is as we get people—Ive been doing a ton of customer visits and people have been coming into Redmond and Im flying around—and the reaction is, "Wow, we had no idea you were doing something like this; when can we get it?" So, its much more of an awareness challenge for us than I think it is a technology challenge. I dont know what you need to do to sell, but just providing the technology could be enough to cause inertia in the market. Weve gotten a lot of feedback from analysts and they have been bullish. I think customer value gets created in a ton of ways with us being in this market. And one of them is directly through the tooling, through what were doing. But the second one is our goal is to create a mass market for enterprise tools. Ill assert that that is an oxymoron. There isnt a mass market for an enterprise tool. The data that we have is the largest independent vendor of enterprise tools is homebuilt. So, we need to get people aware of the value, of the importance, and in fact of the ease of use. That it doesnt have to be this huge learning curve to go from your developer-centric engineering tools to the monstrous sort of process where you have to relearn everything, including your existing workflow. So, we think if we can smooth that curve—instead of making it this huge step as it is today—that well deliver real customer value. And we think theres going to be a lot of innovation in this market. People are going to look at what we do in many dimensions. Partners are going to pile on what we do. We have a lot of partners who never had suites, but who had best-of-breed, world-class point tools. I think that they will integrate into the suite, and then they get to be part of a suite that they never had before. I think theres a lot of customer value driven that way. Quite frankly, IBMs going to do interesting stuff based on what were doing—theres no doubt. And a lot of people are going to react to our entry into the market, and in the end it just drives tremendous customer value. Next page: Building a platform first.

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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