ANAHEIM, Calif. – Borland isn’t planning to bet its future on Web services; it already has.

It was a strong statement from Dale Fuller, the president and CEO of the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based company at its 13th

annual developer conference. It was tempered, however, by a neutral positioning statement: Borland Software Corp. is Switzerland in the world of software development, particularly Web services. This is important in a segment now seen as a war between Sun Microsystems’ Java and Microsoft’s .Net, according to Fuller.

But while there was plenty of mudslinging directed at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft at JavaOne in San Francisco in late March by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun, BorCon ’02 is a unique event that boasted keynotes by both Microsoft and Sun execs.

Microsoft recently launched Visual Studio.Net, its development platform for .Net, but that hasn’t kept it from collaborating with Borland to make sure that Delphi, Borland’s development environment for Windows, is .Net-ready.

In fact, said Fuller, all of the company’s development platforms, including Delphi, Kylix (for Linux) and JBuilder (for Java) are all Web services-enabled.

According to Anders Hejlsberg of Microsoft, the conception of .Net goes back four years, when the software giant realized that the Windows platform had accrued too many programming models. “”We knew there was this whole new phenomenon coming called XML,”” he said, and simply tweaking Windows development would not be enough. “”We had to build a whole new framework.””

Visual Studio.Net is a result of that new framework, as well as Delphi support for .Net.

One concern that has been raised by .Net is its potential to a be a proprietary platform, but Hejlsberg, who goes back with Borland 19 years with the development of Turbo Pascal back in the early ’80s, said, “”.Net is truly language neutral, (and) provides great interoperability.””

The sentiment here among many developers was that this year’s BorCon is a lot less anti-Microsoft than past gatherings — supporting .Net in Delphi is a no-brainer, they say, because if Borland doesn’t support the Microsoft initiative, they don’t get to play.

That being said, about 70 per cent of Borland’s revenues are derived from Java, and the most significant product announcement from Borland was JBuilder 7, the latest edition of the company’s Java development platform.

Most of the Java activity is in the enterprise space using J2EE, according to Tony de la Lama, vice-president of Borland’s Java business unit. “”The platform is so pervasive. It’s rapidly becoming the platform of choice.””

In many large organizations, developers are required to work faster and more efficiently, something Borland is recognizing in all of its products. No longer are they just using tools like JBuilder to write applications, but with other tools such as Borland’s Optimizeit, developers are able to test applications before they are deployed, lowering the chance of bugs being found later once the application is in production.

De la Lama said this is particularly important in large financial institutions, which both have legacy systems in place and new business process requirements — many of them mission-critical — on a regular basis. “”Time is purely of the essence,”” he said. “”These guys are generally under the gun.””

While his bailiwick is the Java space, de la Lama echoes the ‘Switzerland’ positioning of other Borland execs. “”Clearly it’s about what the customer wants to do,”” he said. “”We recognize that the customer has different environments.””

And while Borland believes Java is a very efficient and productive platform for building an integrating enterprise applications, it’s not the end-all and be-all, said de la Lama. Borland’s mission is to bring interoperability to the enterprise. “”The way we view interoperability between Java and other platforms is Web services.””


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