Microsofts Team System Attracts Partners

Its product ecosystem, Visual Studio Team System, marks the company's first attempt to broadly cover the application development life cycle by pumping up its core tools.

When Microsoft announced its Visual Studio Team System at its Tech Ed conference in May, company officials hoped that VSTS would spawn an ecosystem of products around the application life-cycle management tool set.

A key partnership should be realized this week, when AmberPoint Inc., of Oakland, Calif., releases the developer edition of AmberPoints Web services management solution, AmberPoint Express. The company plans to ship its product with some versions of the Microsoft team development tool set next year. In addition, the tools will be distributed with the beta of "Whidbey," Microsofts Visual Studio 2005.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about a beta release of Whidbey.

The ecosystem is strategic for Microsoft Corp., as it marks the first time the Redmond, Wash., company is attempting to cover the application development life cycle so broadly by adding testing, profiling, and design and modeling tools, among other features, to its core tools.

"Microsoft is looking to move into the space occupied by the likes of IBM/ Rational and Mercury Interactive [Corp.]," according to Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, in Waltham, Mass. "[With] AmberPoint, Microsoft is giving enterprise developers the ability to monitor Web services and manage Web services exceptions."

Some users said Microsofts strategy could eat into the sales of competing products, such as Borland Software Corp.s StarTeam. "I fell in love with [StarTeam] and use it here," said Stephen Forte, chief technology officer at New York-based Corzen Inc. Forte said Visual SourceSafe, Microsofts alternative, "was so bad that Microsoft lost market share to Borland and others."

However, said Forte, "since you cant beat the [Microsoft] .Net integration, price and the features of VSTS, I think Microsoft will gain tremendous market share, especially with the new teams developing and smaller teams that do not use any control."

Borland officials said the company will support VSTS, particularly with its CaliberRM requirements management tool. Lax Sakalkale, senior product line manager for development tools at Borland, of Scotts Valley, Calif., said Borland will continue to support the Microsoft platform and be the "Switzerland of the tools area."

Although AmberPoint is the first nontypical partner, Microsoft officials said theres room to grow. "I dont think we offer everything," said Andrew Lees, corporate vice president for server and tools at Microsoft. "We actually have quite an open philosophy in terms of interoperability and also including partners. Were committed to sharing."

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