Borland, BEA shake hands on Java

BEA will resell Borland's JBuilder Java development tool, and Borland will build a version of JBuilder for BEA's WebLogic application server software.

3 min read
Software maker Borland is hoping to extend its lead in the Java programming tools market through a closer alliance with BEA Systems.

The two companies announced Wednesday a co-marketing agreement in which BEA will resell Borland's popular JBuilder Java development tool. Borland, in turn, will build a version of JBuilder for BEA's WebLogic application server software.

For Borland, the deal is important because JBuilder will become BEA's tool of choice for customers of its market-leading application server software. WebLogic and other application servers are designed to run e-business and related Web site transactions.

For BEA, the pact plugs a hole in its product portfolio and allows it to better compete with software rivals IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems because BEA gets a Java tool that is fine-tuned to its application server.

Unlike its rivals, BEA does not develop and sell its own Java programming tool, so it relies on partners. The company's previous tools partner, WebGain, has run into financial trouble and has sold its assets to TogetherSoft and Oracle. With the Borland deal, San Jose, Calif.-based BEA will now stop selling WebGain's tools.

For several years, BEA, a WebGain investor, resold WebGain's Visual Cafe Java development tool, which once rivaled Borland in market share. But in recent years, WebGain's market share has eroded.

"It was in our best interest to work with Borland. Their JBuilder is the No. 1 Java IDE (integrated development environment), and BEA is the No. 1 application server vendor," said Erik Frieberg, BEA's director of product marketing. "It was in our interest to do it for our customers' benefit."

Borland and BEA were partners in the past. But with the new alliance, the pair are building tighter integration between their products, which will make developing software easier, said Ted Shelton, Borland's chief strategy officer.

Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Borland will release the first version of JBuilder WebLogic edition next month, priced at $3,500. BEA will sell its own WebLogic Workshop development tool as a standalone product or as part of a bundle with Borland's JBuilder tool. WebLogic Workshop is BEA's programming tool for building Web services, an emerging method of creating software that allows businesses to interact via the Internet.

Analysts say the closer partnership between BEA and Borland works well for both of them. "BEA doesn't have a full-fledged IDE in its own right, and they don't want to be in the business. And Borland is the current market leader," Gartner analyst Mark Driver said.

Driver said he expects Borland and TogetherSoft will duke it out as the two largest independent Java tools makers remaining. TogetherSoft announced on Monday plans to acquire WebGain's Visual Cafe Java tools along with plans to release a new version next year.

"TogetherSoft and Borland will increasingly compete in the space. You will see TogetherSoft increase its IDE power as Borland puts more effort into modeling," Driver said. "They will look more and more alike over time."

Borland ranks first with 18.1 percent of the Java tools market, while Visual Cafe ranks fifth with 8.8 percent, according to a recent survey of about 800 North American developers by market researcher Evans Data. IBM ranked second with 14.4 percent. The core Java software developers kit and text editor was ranked third with 14.2 percent, followed by Sun with 13.1 percent. Oracle was sixth with 7.8 percent.

In other development tool news, Borland this week released Kylix version 3, a tool that allows programmers to build applications for the Linux and Windows operating systems.

In addition, Sun this week announced that it has donated 18 new software modules to its open-source development tool called NetBeans. The new modules include support for a new Java standard called Java Data Objects, which simplifies software development by making it easier to access information in databases, said Drew Engstrom, product line manager for Sun's software development tools. Sun also announced technology called a "native connector tool" for Linux, allowing programmers to take their Linux applications written in C or C++ languages and make them compatible with Java software or Web services, Engstrom said.