BEA Systems introduces ‘revolutionary’ WebLogic 8.1

5 March 2003 Application server software supplier BEA Systems has introduced a host of new products at its eWorld conference in Orlando, Florida this week. These, it claims, will end decades of chaos in the IT department and bring dramatic new efficiencies.

In a firestorm of hyperbole, CEO and co-founder Alfred Chuang said that the impact of BEA’s new WebLogic 8.1 application server and integration suite would be so dramatic that it will “mark 2003 as a major inflexion point in the history of enterprise computing.”

“This is big. This is bigger than big,” he proclaimed.

BEA’s key claim is that it has brought together a number of development and integration tools onto the one platform suite, WebLogic 8.1. The move not only underscores BEA’s move into the portal development and application integration markets, but means that programmers can use one set of tools – WebLogic Workshop – for all development and integration, ending a long-standing divide in the IT department.

“Until today, it was chaos. The left hand did not know what the right hand is doing,” said Chuang. Now the message is: “All integration is development and all development is integration.”

The new unified WebLogic 8.1 platform effectively replaces BEA’s separate application server, integration server and portal development tools. A new unified method of handling reusable web services and of dealing with security has also been introduced.

Analysts and customers attending the eWorld conference were generally impressed by BEA’s technology, but were less sure about its revolutionary impact. Some said BEA is merely fulfilling promises made a year earlier.

“They may have improved the ability of the systems to work together. But I don’t think 8.1 is anything revolutionary,” said Mike Parks, the chief information officer for Virgin Mobile. “I think the messaging has changed.”

Eric Austvold, research director at AMR Research, said the big push into integration tools does not mean BEA is now going to take on the specialist integration vendors, such as WebMethods and Tibco. It is more about a previously publicized move towards integrating applications at a process level, he said.

BEA’s renewed marketing push may be a response to the growing threat posed by open source application server software and from new competitive products from IBM, Oracle and SAP. Although BEA has reported strong financial results, analysts have criticized BEA for lacking the marketing presence of rivals.

IBM, BEA’s biggest rival, has been widely criticized because its WebSphere integration and development suite consists of so many discrete components — somewhere between 80 and 144, depending on the source. IBM will shortly announce its own plans to integrate and simplify WebSphere’s components.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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