Ahead of the game: Borland changes focus, forms new partnerships

Ray Bradbery knows all about IT development within large corporates. Before he took over as managing director of Borland Australia-New Zealand, he worked for more than 20 years in numerous key positions in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's information technology department. It gave him, he says, a practical understanding of the issues faced by IT heads as they enter upon costly and time-consuming developments to keep their organisations ahead of the game.

Ray Bradbery knows all about IT development within large corporates.

Before he took over as managing director of Borland Australia-New Zealand, he worked for more than 20 years in numerous key positions in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s information technology department.

It gave him, he says, a practical understanding of the issues faced by IT heads as they enter upon costly and time-consuming developments to keep their organisations ahead of the game.

Bradbery is aware of the need to speed up delivery of new solutions — he recalls being tied up for three years on one of the bank’s developments.

“CIOs faced similar problems as far back as the 60s, 70s and 80s, but now the technologies are there to meet their needs,” says Bradbery.

Those needs and their solutions are driving the next wave of application development, deployment and management based on distributed object computing.

They have also prompted Borland, under the global leadership of CEO Del Yocam, to reinvent itself as Inprise. The name is formed from the phrase “integrating the enterprise”.

The change also means that Inprise worldwide will assume aspects of the sales model that has driven Borland forward in New Zealand and Australia. The support and services infrastructure is being expanded, and the company is currently negotiating with another organisation in Wellington to form a partnership to expand its reach into large enterprises.

Yocam’s aim for Inprise is to build on Borland’s recent revival after a period of loss and instability. Analysts agree with his assertion that it must expand to be a $US500 billion company if it is to survive. Inprise’s target - the distributed object computing market - is expected to grow from $US375 million this year to more than $US1 billion by 2001.

More than 65% of Borland’s revenues are now drawn from its corporate and enterprise business. The company has formed relationships with Arthur Andersen, Compuware, EDS, Ernst and Young and KPMG and has formed business relationships enterprise IT suppliers such as IBM, Sun, SAP, Oracle, Novell and Microsoft.

Speaking about the Australia-New Zealand operation, Bradbery says that in the last quarter “20% of our local revenues came from our professional services organisation”.

It’s a long reach for a company that for years focused solely on providing tools for building applications for the Windows platform. More recently, sales of its Delphi development tools have been received with some enthusiasm in New Zealand.

Essential to Inprise is the object request broker technology acquired via Borland’s acquisition of Visigenic. Inprise aims to integrate Borland’s Jbuilder, C++Builder and Delphi development tools with Visigenic’s into a product to be known as Enterprise application server.

Inprise’s senior vice-president for research and development, Dr Richard LeFaivre, claims the application server will integrate the company’s development tools, scalable middleware and application management capability into a single-vendor, end-to-end solution for component-based enterprise computing. The aim is to allow IT organisations to focus on their own strategic business objectives instead of the complexities of middleware programming.

Some analysts have seen potential problems in Inprise’s apparent decision to refuse to license the application server, formerly identified by its code-name Integrated Transaction Server (ITS), to any vendors it sees as competitive. A Borland official said recently, however, that a final licensing plan had not yet been formalised.

Visigenic built its business by licensing its object request broker (ORB) to Oracle, Sybase, Netscape, NetDynamic and GemStone. Its major competitor, Iona Technologies, licenses its ORB to Kiva, Thought and Hewlett-Packard. Now Iona, along with Inprise, are building object application servers, which could put them in direct competition with their customer base. Meanwhile, Sun’s JavaSoft division has stepped into the fray by offering a free ORB for its Java Development Kit.

Inprise says its application server will support all the major server-side software component models, including the Object Management Group’s Corba (Common Object Request Broker) and Sun’s Enterprise JavaBeans. However, Inprise seems to have backed off Borland’s position with Microsoft and will now only support Microsoft’s Component Object Model through bridging technology and will not support Microsoft Transaction Services objects in the server.

Borland’s move is both brave and, probably, necessary if it is to meet Yocam’s ambitious revenue plans. With its emphasis on Java it is also, clearly, a vote of confidence for that development environment..

Yocam believes Java creates an exciting new future for the world. “It is cross-platform, open and scalable,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “It is about solving real problems in the real world.” Those problems include the need to integrate with legacy systems in a distributed environment.

Bradbery confirms his belief that Java tools are now industrial strength. Inprise’s developer tools and middleware products are strong in Java tools, including JBuilder and a family of AS/400 application development products.

Borland’s announcement of the new company included affirmations of the company’s products - including the Entera middleware range - from Australian users.

Bradbery points to New Zealand organisations such as NZ Foodstuffs, NZ Wools and the Department of Education as major users of Inprise/Borland software.

He aims to talk to CEOs and other executives about the Inprise and its ambitions during the coming weeks.

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