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BEA Purchase Builds Up Java Tools

BEA Systems today made another small purchase in its quest for better development tools, acquiring object persistence specialist SolarMetric to improve the way Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 3.0 and Java EE 5 work together.

SolarMetric is a privately held company based in Austin, Texas, that makes a persistence engine. Called Kodo, the engine binds EJB 3.0 and Java Data Objects (JDO) programming models, which allow developers to blend either standard in the same application.

This will enable programmers to build Java programs regardless of the underlying database or preferred programming models, as well as share business objects across the network without a lot of extra coding, said Franz Aman, vice president of developer relations for BEA.

This is an important utility at a time when standard interoperability and programming complexity remain a key bugbear in software development.

In high technology, the practice of persistence allows users to recall data over and over again. EJB 3.0 is designed to "persist" in-memory objects in relational databases, which means objects that change, like shopping carts or ticket reservations, can be stored over time.

"There really wasn't an EJB spec to handle this," Aman said. "With Java 5 next year, there is going to be a spec available. With us picking up [Kodo], we will have it readily available for our customers."

When BEA puts its muscle behind Kodo, customers will have the choice to either use the JDO standard, get an early start on EJB 3.0 or add in EJB 3.0 over time, as the specification is being finalized. BEA will integrate Kodo into an updated version of the BEA WebLogic Server release, currently planned for the second half of 2006.

Aman said the buy is par for the course in BEA's "blended" strategy to mix and match the best of open source and commercial technologies while minimizing integration and testing snafus.

The philosophy: Give developers enough options, and they will be more likely to move up to more scalable technology such as BEA's WebLogic server.

BEA's strategic goal is to go one up on fellow Java software makers IBM and Oracle. Both make databases, which is why BEA believes neither is keen on bringing such technology to market, said Marge Breya, BEA chief marketing officer.

"Basically, there hasn't been a lot of motivation for companies who have databases, like Oracle and IBM, to do anything to make it easy for people to not care about databases," Breya said. "I'm not sure you're going to see Oracle or IBM do anything any time soon in this area because it's against their interests."

SolarMetric is the second acquisition BEA has made to beef up its blended application strategy in a little over a month.

In late September, the San Jose, Calif., software maker scooped up Eclipse tools maker M7.