Borland IDE Tools Get Eclipsed

The success of open source unleashes the final blow on Borland's tool business.

Borland Softwares acquisition of Segue Software and divestment of its integrated development environment tools line is being viewed as the inevitable evolution of the tools space amid the force of the open-source movement.

Borland, of Cupertino, Calif., announced its intent to acquire Segue Software for $100 million and divestment of its IDE tools. The company said it will enrich its ALM (application lifecycle management) tools. Yet a key reason Borland left the tools space was the commoditization of that segment, led by the force of Eclipse, the open-source IDE spawned by IBM and which spun into an independent entity in 2004. Building a business around IDEs is becoming increasingly difficult given the comprehensive tools provided by free rivals such as Eclipse.

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Borland, by many accounts, invented the IDE market when the company began selling Turbo Pascal in 1983. Leaving the IDE business means Borland will no longer sell its Delphi, C++ Builder, C# Builder, JBuilder, Kylix or Interbase products used to create Java, Windows and .Net applications.

"I see no future in the JBuilder side of things under any company banner, because of Eclipse," said Randy Magruder, a senior software engineer at TransWorld Network, in Tampa, Fla., talking about Borlands Java-based IDE. "But as far as the Delphi [Windows] side of things, I think most of what were going through is fear of the unknown. Were in the inevitable turbulence that comes with the unknown."

Analysts such as Anne Thomas Manes, with the Burton Group, in Boston, said Borlands IDE business has been on the decline for about a decade. "Its really hard to compete with free—especially when the free stuff is really good," Manes said.

What remains to be seen is what happens to those loyal JBuilder customers that dont want to switch IDEs. For the most part, Borland IDE users, especially those using Delphi, said they are hopeful about the companys plan to sell the IDE business.

Nick Hodges, a consultant with Dunn Solutions Group, in St. Paul, Minn., said he is "cautiously optimistic" because the move could enable Delphi to get the exposure it deserves.

"Delphi has been the redheaded stepchild at Borland," Hodges said. "My only concern is who the buyers going to be."

Developers such as Hodges and Magruder said they were satisfied with Borlands pace of innovation for its tools, but the company failed to market its products, particularly Delphi.

Magruders advice for Borlands IDE tools business? "They need to find a home for it really fast," he said.

Zack Urlocker, vice president of marketing at MySQL, in Cupertino, Calif., and a former Borland developer, said, given the success of Eclipse, it makes sense for Borland to "get out of that battle and focus on areas where it can add value."

Once Borlands IDE business is unloaded, the company can focus on its latest reinvention. Manes noted that Borland has a history of misguided attempts to reinvent itself but seems to be on track this time.

"Starting with its acquisition of Visigenic and its misguided renaming adventure [Inprise] in the late 90s, Borland has been trying to reinvent itself into an enterprise software company. Borland now addresses management of the entire application lifecycle," Manes said. "I think the Segue and Legadero acquisitions complement their growth pattern of the last decade and put them in a different category."

Indeed, the new Borland will compete with companies such as Serena Software, Compuware and Mercury Interactive.

In the meantime, Borland is seeking a suitor for its tools business. The company has tapped investment bank Bear Sterns to help with that effort.

David Intersimone, vice president of developer relations at Borland, said he will be going with the new company.

"Im leaving with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face," Intersimone said. "The smile is bigger."

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