Eclipse Takes on Microsoft in ALM

The open-source group is moving into the application lifecycle management space.

Now that the Eclipse Foundation has taken on Microsoft in the integrated development environment space with the Eclipse IDE, the open-source consortium is bracing to compete with the software giant for application lifecycle management.

At EclipseCon the week of March 20 in Santa Clara, Calif., Eclipse will demonstrate its emerging prowess in the ALM space with two complementary projects, led by Serena Software and Compuware.

Together, the projects represent a formidable competitor to Microsofts VSTS (Visual Studio Team System) and its new TFS (Team Foundation Server) component. Microsoft announced the release to manufacturing of the TFS bits March 17.

At EclipseCon, Serena and some partners involved with the Eclipse Application Lifecycle Framework will present a proof-of-concept demonstration of ALF, which enables development and IT tools to be orchestrated in support of a companys business needs.

Compuwares "Corona" project, meanwhile, is an effort to provide collaboration among Eclipse- and non-Eclipse-based tools, Eclipse officials said.

In effect, ALF represents an open-source competitor to VSTS, and Corona amounts to an open-source competitor to TFS, analysts said. "This is the open-source-community, vendor-independent approach to ALM," said Carl Zetie, an analyst with Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass.

Ian Skerrett, director of marketing for the Ottawa-based Eclipse Foundation, said the organization is going after ALM with the same model it has been successful with in the IDE space.

"You need to create this vendor-neutral environment, and open source—particularly Eclipse—presents an environment where youre not controlled by one vendor," Skerrett said.

Kevin Parker, vice president of market development at Serena, in San Mateo, Calif., said the ALF proof-of-concept demo shows tools from different vendors interoperating. Four vendors and five products are included: Serena, with its Team Track and Dimensions products; Catalyst, with its OpenMake Build; Segue (now part of Borland Software), with Silk Central Test; and Secure Software, with Code Assure.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about what Borland is doing to focus on ALM.

Serena originally proposed ALF to Eclipse last April, but this marks the first proof-of-concept demo. Parker said a release candidate of the technology is expected in October.

"ALF is the USB of enterprise software," Parker said, adding that "ALF will bring that level of interoperability to enterprise tools."

Parker said that although ALF might be seen as competing with VSTS, the technology is also complementary to the Microsoft ALM solution, and he is interested in having Microsoft join the project even as the software company delivers VSTS and TFS this month.

"I am asking [Microsoft] on a regular basis, but they havent given me a response I can share with you," Parker said. "Microsoft is a huge proponent of Web services, so I cant see that Microsoft would see this as a threat."

Mike Burba, director of marketing at Detroit-based Compuware, said the Corona project takes Eclipse interoperability to a finer level in that it enables tool-to-tool integration and collaboration among developers. Corona features a semantic framework, an event manager and an SOA (service-oriented architecture) framework, Burba said.

Skerrett said other highlights at EclipseCon will include an update on Eclipses RCP (Rich Client Platform) technology, with the first release of the Eclipse Data Tools Project and the Eclipse Communications Framework providing support for embedding VOIP (voice over IP). In addition, Exadel is looking to move RCP to server-side support.

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Further, at least three more well-known companies are expected to announce membership in Eclipse:, MySQL and SugarCRM. will also announce it has released a new AppExchange Toolkit for Eclipse, according to Adam Gross, vice president of developer marketing at the San Francisco company.

Available as a free download from the AppExchange Developer Network, the product provides developers with tools to customize, integrate and build on-demand applications on the AppExchange platform. "We are actively reaching out to Eclipse developers," Gross said. "We think Eclipse is the way things are trending."

Meanwhile, Skerrett said the Eclipse PHP IDE project is moving ahead, with Zend Technologies leading the effort.

EclipseCon: Whats on tap

  • The Eclipse ALF delivers a proof-of-concept demo
  • The new Tools Services Framework, code-named Corona, comes alive
  • Together, ALF and Corona present an open-source alternative to Microsofts VSTS, as well as other vendor solutions
  • Eclipses RCP moves ahead with support for VOIP and the first release of Data Tools Project technology
  • and SugarCRM join Eclipse

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