He said he then asked the development team if users could deploy the applications they built with the tool to the Internet. They said no.
"I said, Well, look, the kind of applications you can build with a simple tool are simple applications," Burton said. "The only thing worse than not allowing a business guy to build an application is to enable them to build an application and then not be able to deploy it because theyve got to go fight with the data center and find a server and some storage, etc."
The Serena developers said they hadnt worked on Internet deployment because it was not something typically done in that facet of the companys business. "So we brought Rene onboard, whos done this a couple of times," Burton said.
Bonvanie had recently joined Salesforce.com, but came to Serena to help launch the Vail effort. Burton and Bonvanie also had worked together at Oracle.
Meanwhile, Burton said one thing that stood out for him was that "youve got a little bit of functionality here that you built, and youve got a little bit here and a little there—thats a mashup. Most mashup talk to date has been to get Google Maps and a real estate company [so] you can see where a house is located—the very essence of GUI consumer apps. And this idea of a business mashup, I think, is still a fairly new concept. I really dont think theres an enterprise-strength tool available for doing business mashups."
Added Bonvanie: "Its pretty amazing because we were launching Salesforce SOA, which was the ability for Salesforce to focus on a SOA strategy, but there was no tools strategy at Salesforce [at that point]. So I went through a whole bunch of companies looking for a tool and they couldnt show me anything. They were all focused on hardcore developers. When I saw this, I said, This is it. This could become the hub through which you can orchestrate all this SOA stuff out there and then deploy to the Web, or to the cloud, so to speak. And then the opportunity to come and run this thing and put it into the cloud was super appealing to me."
Moreover, the new company direction not only contrasts but complements Serenas traditional business, where the company helps IT departments build complex applications. "We gather requirements and we manage source code and we help them build," Burton said. "Theres still going to be a bunch of that going on. But the problem is that the volume of applications are simple and theyre never going to get on the radar of IT departments. The only way out is youve got to enable the business guy to innovate on top of this SOA-based platform."
Burton said Serena will maintain and continue to grow its ALM tools business, because "we absolutely need to be a credible alternative to IBM, which is the largest player in the market."
But that is not the reason Burton came to Serena, he said.
"What got me thinking is I absolutely believe in this concept of enterprise technology being consumerized, if thats a word," he said. "If you look at whats going on in the consumer world right now, youve got the likes of Facebook and MySpace and a bunch of companies that have got precious data—photos and personal information. In order to drive innovation, what these guys are doing is exposing interfaces and allowing folks in their college dorm room to innovate without asking permission of the IT department inside Facebook.
Burton said that has to happen in the business world as well. "I think IT departments have got to stop being this bottleneck," he said. "Theyve got to publish interfaces using SOA. Weve tried for 20 years to define an enterprise architecture—CORBA [Common Object Request Broker Architecture] and DCOM [Distributed Component Object Model] and over the last 15 to 20 years I can name several component-based models where I thought wed cracked it, when now I think at last we have."
To get that consumerization of the business IT world, IT departments have got to expose interfaces using SOA, Burton said.
"And then it cant be that the IT department has the only guys that can innovate on top of those SOA interfaces," Burton said. "If youve got to be a programmer to build an app, then that backlog is never going to get reduced."
The combination of IT exposing SOA interfaces and then semi-technical guys being able to build on that will enable "IT [to] go from being a bottleneck to providing this platform for innovation, not unlike in the consumer world with Facebook and so on," he said.
What these folks are missing are tools, Burton said, and Serena is hoping to remedy that with Vail.
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