Borland Chiefs Take Pragmatic Approach

Borland leadership embraces developers' points of view.

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Dale Fuller joined Borland Software Corp. as CEO in 1999 and quickly aligned with Blake Stone, the companys chief technology officer, to set the strategy for the new Borland. Fuller and Stone met with eWEEK Senior Writer Darryl K. Taft in Fullers offices in Cupertino, Calif.

Why did Borland go after the ALM [application lifecycle management] space?

Stone: [IBMs] Rational [division] has certainly spent a lot of time positioning itself in this space. That said, this is hardly a space they invented. Im talking about the process of an organization creating and managing software. From a practical aspect, the question is, whos going to help you address those problems? Borland didnt position itself there years ago because we were focused on a subset of that area. The reason were positioning ourselves there now is not because thats an area we plan to go but because thats an area we believe we address. And youll see a lot of that from Borland over time. We dont do a lot of big marketing plays; we dont position ourselves in the market through media or through analysts. The way we establish a position is by going out and doing something.

Fuller: I always look at the scoreboard. And the first one in the market, they can declare whatever they want to declare. Because theres nothing defining you yet. So in that time frame, [Rational was] alone in the market describing this thing called application lifecycle management. No one bit on it yet because they focused on bringing all this stuff together, having a modeling kind of world, and then they have to go out and evangelize that modeling aspect where that became the gospel according to RUP [Rational Unified Process].

We came at it from a different approach. Instead of looking at it from a high Ph.D. architect approach, we came at it from a developer [point of view], a very pragmatic way of looking at it.

Whats the key difference between your approaches?

Fuller: The reality is you go out, and you blaze a new trail. Rational focused so heavily on just the architectural end of this and just the modeling part that they forgot all the guys who had to do the work: the developers. They never addressed that market. That was our strength. We also were forgetting the whole modeling and architecture part. But a couple years ago, our developer customers were saying they needed to model their code. Not because they wanted to model and create code, but the developer wanted to create his code and then model it so he could have the architect bless it and sign it and show it off. So we started down this path called code visualization. That was our first foray into it. And thats when we started saying we needed to work with Rational. And then we interconnected those things together. So the reality now is that I can start creating models and designing models that start spitting out code.

Whats your relationship like with Microsoft [Corp.]? How has it evolved?

Fuller: Very good. Since I took over the company five years ago. Well, its fair to say that we had a very tenuous relationship with Microsoft when I took over the company. Microsoft and Borland had declared war against each other. I just happened to come in and say, "OK, the war is over. We lost."

We lost that war. ... We cant sit here and try to rehash the old battle. You cant keep moaning and complaining, whether theyre a monopoly or whatever it is. It doesnt matter. Youve got to get on with life. We actually have a pretty tight relationship with them now. Were supporting .Net. Weve come out with Delphi for .Net. Weve come out with C#Builder products and C++ products. Our Java products support all their platforms and .Net. And we have a product called Janeva that integrates their Visual Studio suite and their application thing under their whole platform on Windows and interconnects with J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] applications. So it makes it transparent.

How did the Borland legacy with developers help you when you came in and decided to push the new strategy?

Fuller: I flash back to Philadelphia, at BorCon [Borland Conference], and I had only been with the company for three months. And there I saw the commitment of the community. I had to go back and look at what the previous executive team had done to the company. I had prepared a speech I was going to give, and I threw it away after checking out the crowd. I really got a sense of what was going to turn us around. I knew this company could not ever turn its back again on its community of loyal evangelists. That was my first statement when I walked on stage that night. And at that point I got up there and said, "I apologize." Those people are the heart and soul of this company. Thats core to us.

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