Borland Canada playing it safe

The best way to appeal to Canada’s conservative software-buying tendencies is to convince purchasers you’re the safest bet, according to the new country manager for Borland Canada.

It’s a strategy Christopher Corey says software tools-maker Borland is well suited to follow. Not only are “Canadians more conservative stereotypically,” executives in industries where IBM/J2EE have been strong in Canada, namely financial services, may not like the idea of becoming too entrenched in that camp over the long-term.

“For them, Borland becomes a conservative play,” Corey said, pointing to his company’s desire to remain platform neutral.

That’s just one of the new assignments for Borland as it continues to cultivate its relations with users of its flagship Delphi product, goes head-to-head against such companies as IBM Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., and draws up plans to take on Microsoft Corp. later this year with its new suite of Gailieo .Net development tools.

Several factors give Borland an advantage in these battles, Corey added. First is the company’s financial performance – several quarters of profits during what has arguably been the worst IT economy slump ever. Next, according to Corey, is Borland’s technology stance. With IBM more or less in the J2EE camp and squaring off against Microsoft’s .Net, Borland is keeping its feet firmly planted in both camps, maintaining “coopetition” arrangements with both vendors.

Then there’s Borland’s recent acquisitions, largely given the thumbs-up by observers, of TogetherSoft and Starbase, boosting Borland’s weakness in the application modelling space in the process. This technology allows development team members to better collaborate on a single project.

The results of that activity are already available – the company recently launched Borland Together Edition for JBuilder, a Borland-labelled version of the modelling environment that became the company’s property through the acquisition of TogetherSoft. Together Edition for JBuilder will also become part of Borland Enterprise Studio 5 for Java, an upgraded version of the company’s development suite for Java development, and replace Rational Rose in that suite, Borland officials said.

Borland’s other purchases in 2002 included Redline Software Inc. of San Jose in January and Highlander Engineering Inc. of Lakeland, Fla., in May.

It’s the completion of those acquisitions, plus some changes in the economy, that’s prompting Borland to focus on a concept it calls application lifecycle management – namely, integrating its suite of tools to not only ease the job for developers, but to help keep all members of software project teams better informed.

“ALM is a space around software development that extends far beyond the tools,” Corey said. “Philosophically, what it does is bring the whole team together…[it] breaks down the walls and brings this development community together.”

By allowing development project team members to easily communicate, ROI is proven faster and developers gain more stature within their organizations. It also helps to spread the Borland mind share, as Corey says the company’s brand is not always well recognized outside of developer circles – something he says can be turned to its advantage.

“Where Borland comes in, and why we’ll be extremely successful in this space…is because of Borland’s relationship with the developer. That will be the key to our success,” he said.

Corey officially took the reigns at Borland Canada last month. He previously worked as a district manager at Rational Software, which was acquired by IBM Corp. late last year. In the short-term he plans to strengthen alliances with the company’s partners, including resellers and integrators, and is planing to specifically target customers in government and the financial sectors.

But being a smaller player in a field of giants has it downsides. As to rumours that Microsoft may follow IBM’s lead and acquire its closest development tools partner, Corey said while Borland maintains a close relationship with Redmond, he personally doubts whether such a move would be in its best interests, as it may threaten its relationship with Java JBuilder users.

“We offer Microsoft customers they would otherwise have failed to access,” he said,