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Borland Re-Invents Itself: Application Life Cycle Management Is Its New Goal

Borland, the firm that used to be known for development tools, recently launched an application life cycle management suite meant to track and manage the development process itself.

It's the difference, Borland spokesmen say, between providing Turbo Pascal -- code that runs fast -- and coders who work smart. At the front of Borland's application life cycle management product line is Gauntlet, testing software that allows a project manager to automate the scripts that take freshly developed code and generate a build or early assembly of a system. Gauntlet then allows a project manager to run the new system against a set of tests or "gauntlets" designed to ensure the software meets functional requirements and can handle expected traffic.

By frequently testing builds, the development process is more likely to yield the expected results, Borland CEO Tod Nielsen said in an interview.

"Most people think of us as tools. I plan to shout from the mountain tops, Borland is an ALM company," said Nielsen, who assumed the CEO post in November 2005, replacing Dale Fuller. In Gauntlet, Borland has designed a product to force new code to undergo a bug review and stress test early in the development process. Bugs and poorly constructed sections of code can be isolated in virtual sandboxes, or sealed off areas of memory in a server's random access memory, so they may be fixed before entering the code's build process again.

Gauntlet can be configured to test code before it's checked into a version control system, such as Borland's StarTeam, open source CVS, or open source Subversion. It also can show common metrics on code quality, such as how many tests it's been submitted to and what percentage of the overall system has been tested.

Gauntlet also can test for security exposures, code complexity, and license compliance. Customers may add their own tests through a third party API.

"We think we've found a big pain point for customers," said Nielsen.

Gauntlet is part of a larger suite of Borland tools called Life Cycle Quality Management. Another component is the Silk test suite, including SilkCentral Test Manager, which automates manual testing procedures and captures test results. It is a tool that works on the Eclipse open source programmer's workbench.

The suite also includes: SilkPerformer, also Eclipse-based, which monitor's metrics built into Java applications, called Java Management Extensions, to diagnose server performance; SilkTest, which allows building tests to be applied to Java, .Net code running on Windows Vista, and other enterprise technologies.

The Gauntlet and Silk products are available immediately. Gauntlet is priced at $6,000 for the concurrent user, server deployment, and $2,000 per named user. Silk pricing wasn't available at press time.

Last fall, Borland announced it was spinning off its JBuilder, Delphi, and other development tools into an independent business unit, CodeGear.

Other vendors addressing application life cycle management include Microsoft's Visual Studio, IBM Rational Software unit, Compuware, Telelogic, and Serena Software. The goal of application life cycle management is to convert software development into a more predictable and managed business process.

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