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March 28, 2005

Borland cautiously optimistic over Microsoft ALM

Borland Software's chief executive is confident in the face of Microsoft's planned application lifecycle management (ALM) platform, due later this year.

By CBR Staff Writer

Dale Fuller believes Microsoft’s approach to application modeling and lifecycle management will be great for existing customers and entry level developers but that enterprises will demand tried and tested, bullet proof technologies and methodologies.

Fuller, in a recent interview with ComputerWire, noted though Microsoft’s planned Visual Studio 2005 Team System (VSTS) could not be ignored and believes Microsoft will become one of the industry’s top two suppliers of ALM software.

VSTS will start to gain traction and it will disrupt the market… it will be one of the top two players either in terms of revenue or seats, Fuller said.

Microsoft last week revealed VSTS’s planned pricing in a move designed to secure early buy-in to the platform from diehard Windows developers ahead of launch. That buy-in is essential, as success for Microsoft in this sector will be measured by the company’s capacity to convert and keep developers using VSTS.

It has become more important for Microsoft to secure buy-in, as delivery of the already delayed suite has now slipped from summer to the end of the year.

Despite these problems, and the stakes at risk, Fuller believes Microsoft will deliver a system that will see steady and increased use from Windows and .NET developers. The reason for that is software development has become increasingly complex and more distributed thanks to the advent of web services, Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) and outsourcing the latter having sent portions of companies’ ALM team abroad.

These three facts require that applications are designed, modeled and built according to specific plans that are clearly adhered to by all members of the ALM team.

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Microsoft’s job has been to create rich environments that let the novice get done what they have to do… Microsoft’s customers haven’t needed [VSTS] until recently, Fuller said.

Microsoft is expected to meet its customers’ needs though increased use of wizards and domain-specific, software factories that help teams architect and model distributed applications, web services and SOAs.

While Fuller recognizes the potential challenge Microsoft poses with improved ease of use, he believes an emphasis around mature tools combined with a set of software processes that help developers use their ALM software more effectively is the secret recipe for success for companies in the ALM sector.

As such, Borland in January announced it had acquired process consultant TeraQuest Metrics to embed the company’s software development processes in areas like Capability Maturity Model (CMM) into its own ALM tools portfolio.

If you draw a line through the methodologies to the tools and the processes, you have a way to manage all these things… it’s tying a lot of lose things together, Fuller said at the time.

Calling Microsoft’s ALM methodologies entry level Fuller said: The enterprise needs something that’s bullet proof. He added Microsoft would, though, likely engrain improved processes into VSTS products that connect to Borland’s own tools.

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