BEA Rolls Out New Servers with Focus on Java
Convinced that Java will overtake Microsoft Corp. solutions in the e-commerce market, BEA Systems Inc. (www.beasys.com
) launched a set of Java-based application servers. The products contain new capabilities for business-to-business commerce, including support for wireless mobile devices through the Wireless Markup Language (WML).
Version 5.1 of BEA's WebLogic application server family includes support for XML, Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), and SNMP network administration, and integration with WebGain Studio, a Java-based application developers toolkit from WebGain Inc. (www.webgain.com), an affiliate of BEA. BEA is reselling WebGain Studio, a toolkit that integrates technologies such as WebGain's VisualCafe and StructureBuilder development environments.
Beyond WebGain, developers can employ toolsets such as VisualAge for Java from IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com) and JProbe Suite from KL Group Inc. (www.klgroup.com) to produce applications for BEA's new WebLogic application servers.
"All of the major application server vendors, with the exception of Microsoft, are moving to Java," says John Kiger, director of product marketing at BEA.
Analysts concur that Java is gaining traction in the application development market. Recent statistics from GartnerGroup Inc. (www.gartner.com) state that 60 percent of all new applications will use Java within the next four years. Gartner also forecasts that Java will be the dominant platform used for processing server-side XML. Another analyst firm, IDC (www.idc.com), has still rosier projections for Java. The company predicts the language will surpass Windows in application server market share by 2002.
With an eye toward taking the lead in the Java-based application server market, BEA Systems is forging partnerships with numerous ISVs, application service providers (ASPs), value added resellers, and systems integrators, such as ERP World (www.erpw.com), CIMLINC Inc. (www.cimlinc.com), Blockade Systems Corp. (www.blockade.com), Objectsoft Group Inc. (www.objectsoftgroup.com), and Vitria Technology Inc. (www.vitria.com). Kiger says he hopes one day there will be "a BEA application server in every business."
This may not be far-fetched. The new WebLogic 5.1 line-up supports every conceivable type of business IT need. The system supports development of custom portals, transaction processing, and back-end integration with legacy and third-party applications through XML and BEA's eLink, a family of products that tie BEA's frameworks to back-end applications and networks.
In this latest release, BEA redefined the three members of the WebLogic application server family. BEA's entry-level product, WebLogic Express application server, now includes Java Servlet, Java Server Page (JSP), and Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) support.
For the middle tier, BEA's WebLogic Server 5.1 supplies the same capabilities as the entry-level product, but also adds support for EJB, Java Messaging Service (JMS), and clusters.
The top-of-the-line WebLogic Enterprise 5.1 adds CORBA, BEA Tuxedo, C, and C++ support. The new version of the high-end product also includes some features that in the past were only included in the mid-tier server product.
The high-end enterprise edition contains personalization capabilities, page serving, Web-oriented business logic, e-commerce components, and WML and XML support. On the back end, the product provides support for multiple programming models and languages, in addition to enterprise integration through XML messaging and BEA's eLink adapters. BEA previously rolled out an eLink Adaptor Kit (ADK), aimed at letting partners and corporate customers build custom application integration adapters for BEA's e-comm environment. An eLink Integration Server is also in the works, Kiger adds.
BEA has introduced support for both XML and EJB in the version 2.0 edition of WebLogic Commerce Server, a separate "out-of-the-box" product built on WebLogic Server. WebLogic Commerce is targeted at e-commerce operations.
BEA also set its sites on the lucrative business-to-business exchange space, as well. The vendor will use XML, together with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) services such as EJB 1.1, JSP 1.1, and JDBC 2.0, to integrate WebLogic with its forthcoming E-Collaborate environment for Web-based trading communities and eProcess Integrator workflow engine. BEA's XML capabilities will also support application integration through industrywide standards initiatives such as RosettaNet (www.rosettanet.org) and Microsoft's BizTalk (www.biztalk.org), Kiger says.
BEA also plans to use XML in conjunction with WML to support wireless transaction applications through integration with WAP servers such as those from wireless access vendors, such as Nokia Corp. (www.nokia.com). "Java Server Pages will be used to create on-the-fly HTML or WML pages. The WML pages will be sent across HTTP into a WAP gateway which will convert the pages into a WAP data stream for the mobile applications on the other end," Kiger explains.
This integration is key to developing wireless Web access to corporate data, analysts maintain. Through XML, application servers will be able to support translation of documents into other formats, as well, ultimately extending past various sorts of mobile devices to speech and Braille, predicts Rita Knox, vice president and research director at GartnerGroup.
"XML and WML support is absolutely essential, with wireless and mobile applications becoming increasingly important," affirms Tyler McDaniel, an analyst at Hurwitz Group Inc. (www.hurwitz.com). "BEA's inclusion of Tuxedo support all the way out to the application server level is another indication that BEA belongs in the 'total solution provider' kind of category. It's also a clear message of a good overall company vision."
BEA's Kiger predicts some organizations will prefer to operate their own WAP servers, whereas others will contract with wireless service providers to serve up WAP pages for access by mobile smartphones. BEA also will start reselling the Nokia WAP Server with its application and commerce servers and related services in a bundle to be known as the "BEA WebLogic M-Commerce Solution." BEA and Nokia are also collaborating on a development kit for mobile e-commerce transaction applications.