Big Changes Ahead for Borland
Borland CEO Tod Nielsen shares insights on the market and his plans for the company.
Interview by Jim Fawcette
August 8, 2006
CEO, Borland Software Corp.
Like the company he heads, Borland CEO Tod Nielsen CEO has a long pedigree. I first met Tod when he worked on developer programs at Microsoft not long after the introduction of Visual Basic. Since then, Tod helped found Crossgain, which ran afoul of lawsuits from Microsoft, served as CMO of BEA, and worked as a vice president of Oracle. Nielsen took over as CEO of Borland in October of last year and is dramatically changing the direction of the venerable development tools company.
Tod shared insights on the market and his plans for Borland during interviews with several members of Borland's executive team at the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters by FTP's Jim Fawcette, Peter Varhol, Terry O'Donnell, and Patrick Meader. Related articles examine Borland's focus on Application Lifecycle Management, competition with standards proposed within Eclipse, and the resuscitation of the Turbo brands with new offerings focused on .NET and Win32.
Enterprise IT Needs
FTPOnline: What is enterprise IT telling you it needs, and what are you doing about those needs?
Nielsen: The number-one customer issue across the board is their ability to effectively deliver software. All of them say their projects are over budget, late, and just not meeting the needs of the business.
Regardless of what business they're in, software permeates everything. It is no longer a case of having accounts-payable systems; software is central to their business.
Our application lifecycle technologies and consultants are a chance to help them build their manufacturing line, if you will, and have a core process to gather requirements all the way through to delivering their own software.
FTPOnline: For years people have been talking about the need for enterprise architecture to bridge the silos of technology. How well is that working?
Nielsen: Companies are saying that even within the silo, development can't understand users' requests and be responsive.
It's communications, accountability, control.
One CIO in London last week—I flew around the world visiting customers in the last couple of weeks—said, "You know, with ERP I got visibility via dashboards into the state of my business. I need that for my IT projects. I have no visibility of which developers are breaking the builds, what is productive ...
"In the end I have this army of people that says, 'They suck,' but I don't know who sucks, why, and when.
"What I need is a dashboard of my software process."
FTPOnline: So you're talking IT governance.
Nielsen: IT governance, change control, portfolio management, requirements management, requirements solicitation, quality ... we're talking the whole gamut of software development.
Often a customer will start off with a requirement. They'll say, "I have an IT governance issue" or whatever. But when you drill into it, you see it is a lifecycle problem. It is rare for customers to have a complete approach in place.
FTPOnline: Is it fair to say that the silos the companies are facing are similar to silos that IT is facing? The developers have their tools, and so on.
Nielsen: Absolutely. The architects don't talk to the developers, and so on. Ironically, I can relate. I'm remodeling a house in Los Gatos. Everyone has their remodel or construction disaster story. The same issues relate to software. Yet no one has really tackled it.
FTPOnline: These are all good arguments for lifecycle tools, but do the vertical silos argue against Borland's "Switzerland" approach? Every company has "all of the above" LAMP, FOSS, .NET, and J2EE, but the teams that actually do the projects work separately with little crossover. Is there really a need for cross-platform tools?
Nielsen: No. Much like you see in organizations trying to standardize around a platform, we're seeing standardization around components and integrated processes that work together.
They've proven the current approach doesn't work well and now recognize they must collaborate.
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