BEA Buzzes EAI Market

BEA Systems Inc. (www.beasys.com) is melding its product line into a unified CORBA and Java enterprise application server. The product, to be called BEA WebLogic Enterprise, will combine BEA WebLogic, which BEA acquired last fall, with BEA M3, a CORBA-based object transaction manager (OTM) launched a year ago.

With this new product, BEA will go head-to-head against IBM Corp.'s WebSphere Application Server family. In fact, BEA's latest moves mirror those of IBM, which offers similar Web application server products, observes Michael Gilpin, vice president of Giga Information Group (www.gigaweb.com). In addition, BEA and IBM now have products in both the application server and enterprise applications integration (EAI) markets, Gilpin notes.

In fact, BEA -- noted for its strategic application development frameworks -- is finally visible in the short-term-focused EAI market. "Though our customers have been using our products for EAI for a long time, we've been shy to admit we're in that market," says Paul Ambrose, vice president of strategic planning at BEA Systems.

BEA's second product family, Tuxedo, incorporates its Tuxedo transaction processing monitor and Top End middleware toolset. Applications built with BEA Tuxedo or M3 are interoperable with BEA WebLogic Enterprise, according to BEA.

As part of its thrust into the EAI space, BEA also launched a program called "bea@work," which includes BEA eLink, a family of products that link BEA's frameworks to back-end applications and networks.

Impresse Corp. (www.impresse.com) recently announced it used BEA WebLogic Server to develop PresseWare, an Internet-based digital production solution, which incorporates Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) components. The package integrates Internet and supply-chain technologies to deliver on-demand manufacturing using digital production. Digital production is the process of converting a digital master product into a manufactured physical form. Targeted at the printing and publishing market, PresseWare enables on-demand production of print materials.

The Impresse PresseWare product line runs on Windows NT 4.0 and is built with a four-tier architecture composed of Oracle8i and SQL Server databases, as well as EJB component application logic modules running on a WebLogic Server. User interface scripts were developed with Java Server Pages and Active Server Pages running on a Web server, and finally, clients using DHTML and XML-based standard browsers, such as Netscape Navigator 4.0 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0.

BEA WebLogic Enterprise is designed for rapidly building component-based applications that can reach from Web and other desktops to NT, Unix, and mainframe servers, while providing support for CORBA and Enterprise Java. WebLogic also supports connectivity to applications built with Microsoft COM components, Ambrose says.

"There are few companies that haven't standardized on the Microsoft desktop," he observes. "It's important to provide full interoperability between Microsoft clients and the WebLogic server." But, Ambrose adds that it's just as important for customers to "have the capability to move to platforms other than NT." This is the case for ISVs that face early platform decisions. "For an ISV, having to commit to a single platform in the first year of business is very painful. That's one of the beauties of Java -- ISVs can build an application that is not tied to a particular platform, then move as market forces dictate," Ambrose says.