26 February 2002 Application server and middleware software vendor BEA Systems has made a string of product and strategy announcements on the opening day of its developer conference in San Diego, California.
These include a new version of its application server software, a new integrated development environment (IDE) and the acquisition of Stockholm-based Java Virtual Machine (JVM) software vendor, Appeal Virtual Machines.
CEO Alfred Chuang described the product releases and acquisition as part of the company’s new strategy to provide the “whole stack” of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) applications and to make its platform “unified, simplified and extensible” through a number of product modifications and the addition of web services compatibility.
New products include the updated version of BEA’s application server software, WebLogic Server 7.0, as well as the release of WebLogic Workshop, a graphical IDE that BEA says supports interoperability between Java and other software languages, such as the simple object access protocol (SOAP) and web services description language (WSDL).
The product makes BEA the latest vendor to sell a new generation of IDEs that support web services. Microsoft announced its web services IDE, Visual Studio .Net, in mid-February, while IBM announced its open source IDE project, Eclipse, as far back as November 2001.
Explaining BEA’s adoption of web services technology, Chuang stated that it was now time to build applications “along a business process, and not by data relationships”. Chuang also refuted critics’ claims that BEA’s adoption of web services was a tacit admission that the technology was “the next Java”. He said that web services had enabled BEA to open up its own J2EE architecture to interoperate with other technology platforms, but that it would not replace it.
The most significant change to BEA’s existing product line-up is the availability of all of its products in an integrated package called WebLogic Platform 7.0. This combined platform includes BEA’s application server software, new development tools, integration tools, security platform, and portal software. According to Todd Nielson, BEA’s chief marketing officer, the new platform will make it easier for customers to buy and implement BEA’s J2EE architecture.
The acquisition of Appeal Virtual Machines’ JVM software technology will enable BEA to offer Java applications that can run on almost any underlying operating system or hardware. It extends BEA’s portfolio to encompass the complete stack of Java components.
The announcement caused some concern among analysts from Meta Group and IDC. They asked whether BEA’s next step would be to extend into developing and selling its own operating system and hardware.
However, Chuang stated that BEA only wanted to provide customers with all the components needed to run a J2EE environment, and that the JVM software will enable customers more easily choose their preferred third-party hardware and operating systems.