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BEA Debuts WebLogic Platform for Telcos

BEA Systems unveiled its latest WebLogic Communications Platform Monday, featuring a software suite geared to power services such as e-mail, video, voice, chat or gaming.

The platform, previously known as Project Da Vinci, is runtime software tailored for telecommunications providers that want to offer customers cutting-edge technologies such as Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) .

BEA CTO Mark Carges said the company is making a dramatic shift from offering software that supports the network at the operating system and applications layers up into the service delivery layer. This spot on the IT stack dictates how content is delivered through a computing device, such as a laptop, PDAs or Web-enabled phones.

In a launch event via conference call, Carges said BEA is entering a new world, and acknowledged that service delivery is complicated because of the different form factors and protocols involved. But, he said BEA has the chops to compete and grab a big chunk of the market.

Carges said the first product delivered under the aegis of the WebLogic Communications Platform is the WebLogic SIP Server, a J2EE application server geared to support Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) services.

SIP is a standard approach for initiating communication between two or more devices for exchanging information via voice, images, or video. WebLogic SIP Server is designed to help carriers provide increasingly popular services like VoIP phone calls, fixed and wireless services, multi-player gaming and Web conferencing.

"We've taken a Web container and all the Web standards around J2EE and we've taken the new IP-based telecommunications standards, such as SIP, and we've brought them together," Carges said. "And this is a first. These are the only two products on the planet that have converged a J2EE container and a SIP container."

Carges noted that while the build out of SIP is predominantly in telecommunications now, financial services and retail will adopt it more going forward, to power such technologies as RFID.

BEA WebLogic Network Gatekeeper, Carges said, is a sort of "traffic cop" software system designed to guard network resources, allowing carriers to manage access for network resources by enforcing user access policies. It is currently in development and should be ready in spring 2005.

In a bid to support the new products and ensure interoperability, the San Jose, Calif.-based BEA has enlisted partners in the offerings, including Intel, Accenture, HP and EMC.

On the conference call, Yankee Group analyst Rob Rich confirmed Carges' stance that service delivery platforms were becoming more important. He said competition and increased pressure for new revenue is forcing service providers to come up with ways to improve service delivery to customers at reasonable prices.

Service provider customers are turning to companies like BEA for help, he said.

BEA is no stranger to telco accounts. WebLogic application server and the company's Tuxedo e-commerce server have been used extensively by service providers. Wireline and wireless companies have used the technology to build applications directly on WebLogic and Tuxedo.

Though there are no official estimates, BEA officials said the market for such service delivery software for telcos is expected to be about $250 million in 2005, with the potential to balloon to single-digit billions by 2008.

BEA officials said IBM , Microsoft and HP will be its toughest competition in the race to grab more customers and land more infrastructure contracts with customers.