BEA Leaps Into Internet Time with RAD Offerings

Further strengthening its beachhead in the rapid application development market, BEA Systems Inc. (www.beasys.com) recently unveiled a Java-based commerce server on which developers can quickly build both business-to-business and business-to-consumer applications. The vendor also announced a new version of its Tuxedo transaction monitor that supports XML, as well as new adapter capabilities for its eLink enterprise application integration (EAI) product. In the past, analysts categorized BEA Systems as a "systematic" development tools vendor -- geared toward long-term infrastructure development. These new offerings, however, represent a leap into the Internet time zone for the tool vendor.

BEA's WebLogic Commerce Server 2.0 derives from the company's acquisition of Theory Center in November 1999. The server includes a bundle of components, such as an order-entry module, shopping cart, and payment system, says Joe Menard, president of BEA's e-commerce server division. "This is a prepackaged, building-block approach to creating an application." About 250 ISVs also provide applications that can be added into the server, he notes. In addition, 32 systems integrators will support WebLogic Commerce Server at the time it ships. Menard anticipates that the product will compete with the likes of Net.Commerce from IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com), Site Server Commerce Edition from Microsoft Corp. (www.microsoft.com), and One-To-One from Broadvision Inc. (www.broadvision.com).

WebLogic Commerce Server will also include JRules, a rules engine from ILOG Inc. (www.ilog.com). This engine works with the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) components in BEA WebLogic Commerce Server to enable rapid development of transaction capabilities. ILOG JRules is a Java-based embedded software component that allows business rules to be written and updated using existing Java business objects.

BEA also announced the first major upgrade to its Tuxedo product in almost three years. New features incorporated into Tuxedo 7.1 include digital signature and Public Key Infrastructutre support, queuing performance, threads-based programming support, and XML support. "With the APIs we've created, and plug-in modules, you can have a message pop securely across the Internet, into another company, out of that company, and back across the Internet," Menard says.

By recognizing XML data types within a BEA Tuxedo message buffer, Tuxedo can route XML content in accordance with the application being deployed. For instance, Tuxedo's data-dependent routing can be used to change the path of a transaction and its subsequent processing based on the content of XML data. XML data such as a zip code can be used to route a customer order to a business partner's closest distribution center, instead of one across country, to save shipping costs. BEA Tuxedo 7.1 is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of this year.

With this range of development products, BEA is positioned to offer capabilities to both systematic and short-term tactical development, Menard explains. Tuxedo is targeted at those developers that program in C, and WebLogic Enterprise -- which also incorporates the Tuxedo engine -- enables development in C++ and Java/EJBs. These tools all serve the infrastructure development market.

WebLogic Server, on the other hand, is BEA's 100 percent Java offering, Menard says. WebLogic Commerce Server, which runs on WebLogic Server, provides the components for rapid e-commerce site development. "It will allow people to pop up applications in no time at all," he states.

BEA also introduced an EAI toolkit that provides developers with a way to build customized adapters within BEA eLink Server to integrate front office and back office applications. Currently, BEA offers a number of off-the-shelf adapters that link applications to environments such as SAP R/3, PeopleSoft, and IBM mainframes. "We want to build a cottage industry around eLink, where anybody that needs an adapter can easily develop one to take advantage of the eLink EAI platform," Menard explains.