Embarcadero: much more to come

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Content Copyright © 2009 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Embarcadero’s acquisition of CodeGear, which was completed at the end of June last year, has attracted surprisingly little comment. Probably this is because nobody has heard of CodeGear, so I had better go back a bit.

CodeGear was spun out of Borland in 2006 when the latter decided that it was going to concentrate on application lifecycle management because it couldn’t hack it in the application development space. Despite the fact that it owned both Delphi and JBuilder (together with variants such as C++Builder) as well as a range of other development tools (and, curiously, the InterBase relational database) Borland couldn’t market its way out of a paper bag so it decided to put CodeGear up for sale. But, guess what, nobody wanted it for the price that Borland was demanding, so it sat lonely and forlorn until Embarcadero came and rescued it earlier this year, in what sounds a pretty good deal for Embarcadero who bought it for less than a third of its annual revenues.

Anyway, that’s all in the past. More interesting: what can Embarcadero do with all of its new technology? Of course, there have been a number of new releases both on the database management side (Embarcadero’s historic playground) and in application development. For example, DB Optimizer has been introduced on the one hand and a new version of RAD Studio (a development IDE for Windows environments) on the other. But both of these were no doubt on the roadmap before the acquisition though fresh investment and a more dynamic approach could well galvanise the CodeGear user base where there is likely to be significant pent up demand for enhancements to the existing products.

More interesting are the potential synergies between the two sets of tools. Of course, one would expect Embarcadero to market its database management capabilities to its CodeGear customer base and vice versa although developers and database managers represent very different constituencies so it may not be as easy as Embarcadero might like.

However, there is scope for developing capabilities that go well beyond mere marketing. Perhaps most obviously one of the biggest problems in database performance management is poorly written SQL. As one of the leading exponents of tools to ensure well-written SQL there is obviously scope for embedding its SQL writing capabilities into its newly acquired development tools. Then again, ER/Studio is one of the leading modelling tools and there is obviously scope for embedding this within the CodeGear development environments. Further, with its expertise in database management it is also likely that we could see a resurgence in development for InterBase, though in the longer term my guess would be that the company would want to sell this, as one of its claims to fame as an independent tools vendor is precisely that it does not compete with the database products that it supports.

Of course, all of this is up in the air at present but it will be fascinating to watch the company develop over the coming months. It has certainly made Embarcadero a more interesting proposition and it has the potential to grow from a significant but niche player to a real alternative to the mainstream vendors across a broad range of capabilities.