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October 7, 1999

Inprise Readies Framework for Integrating Web Apps

By CBR Staff Writer

By William Fellows

Inprise Inc CEO Dale Fuller says he is transforming the venerable tools company into a rapid response internet team. But it is a job made harder because in a desperate bid to turn its fortunes around, the company changed its name from Borland before Fuller joined the company in April. Fuller says he’s not about to spend the millions of dollars it would take to change the company’s name back to Borland even if it is one of the oldest and best known names in the software industry. Instead he’s using Borland as the brand, writ bold and large on all of its marketing and materials, with Inprise relegated to the small print.

Since Fuller arrived the company has added an application server and management programs to its tools products which together with the VisiBroker distributed messaging and transaction software – plus its large installed base of Borland users – give Inprise a decent shot at grabbing a piece of the development pie. For good measure it has also agreed a Linux strategy with Corel Corp. The share price has almost doubled to $4.19 from its $2.69 low.

But what will differentiate it going forwards? With tools (JBuilder), application server (WebCore) and connectivity (VisiBroker) under its belt, Fuller is now focused on plugging a gap in the market for tying applications, email, documents and data sources together so that they can be accessed seamlessly from one place (a browser), and universally updated, whether they reside on a company or partner’s server or at one or more service providers. As applications and data become networked utilities, users will need to access these resources from any device and change and update information universally. In a month or two Inprise will roll out a framework into which it will slot a series of new products. The framework will also include existing Inprise messaging and transport infrastructure products and incorporate profiling. It will also pull in products from partners.

It’s the kind of end-to-end application environment which several ISVs are pursuing. Fuller, who was previously CEO of WhoWhere Inc, envisages an employee accessing email, office applications, human resources data, 401K and medical information, from one place and being able to update information universally. Fuller claims that Inprise owns 25% of the developer market for programming tools with Jbuilder. VisualBasic and Inprise’s Delphi equivalent, plus other C++ tools have the rest of the market, he says.

And why is Inprise still independent anyway? It’s no secret that Sun Microsystems Inc has been shopping for a tools company and reportedly cast its eye over Inprise, Symantec and others. Sun has even abandoned its own Java Studio and Java Workshop development tools. Fuller says that if there ever was a deal on the table then it wasn’t good enough. Meantime Inprise is getting attention in the right places. Oracle was lauding Inprise earlier this week when it was talking about the importance of its having an application server and tools to work with it. You only have to look at Inprise, they were a tools-only company but now they’ve just launched an application server as well, Oracle said, vendors are realizing the money is made in deployment…and that they’ll struggle to make money if they haven’t got a platform.

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