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RealTime IT News

Java Rivals Score Major Customers

Sun Microsystems and BEA received ringing endorsements in the brick-and-mortar space as both vendors announced significant customer wins that highlight their disparate approaches to providing Java software.

Sun said it has agreed to provide its Java Enterprise System software to clothier The Men's Wearhouse and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) for undisclosed sums. Meanwhile, Sun rival BEA agreed to provide its middleware for the Star Alliance airline consortium.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun is touting the Java Enterprise Software (formerly known as Project Orion) as the foundation for Web services , which lets applications talk to one another to complete such tasks as business transactions, as a more complete systems approach over middleware makers such as BEA or IBM.

BEA and IBM employ middleware application server and integration software as engines on which businesses can run business applications. But Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president, software at Sun, said middleware is becoming outdated in a company press statement.

"Middleware is history," said Schwartz. "The most demanding large-scale organizations don't have the time or patience to muddle around with hand-tooled middleware - they need a systems approach, and a systems offering, that integrates all the platform elements required for the operation of high scale Web services."

BEA is landing major customers despite this assessment.

The San Jose, Calif.-based software maker Tuesday inked a contract with airline network Star Alliance in which its WebLogic Server and BEA WebLogic Integration software will become the 15-member group's preferred application server and integration software, respectively, for the next five years.

Star Alliance members have developed ticketing, baggage handling and loyalty software applications on the BEA WebLogic Platform in recent years. The new deal, for which financial terms were not disclosed, broadens and extends those relationships.

On the same day, Sun joined forces with ICSynergy and FatWire Software at the National Retail Federation Conference in New York City to provide The Men's Wearhouse with Java software to help integrate and share such information as employees' benefits and financial reporting across 500 stores in the U.S.

The three companies will provide the technology for The Men's Wearhouse to construct a content management portal to serve as the single access point for real-time collaboration for the company's employees. Before the portal, the retailer had relied on a static intranet, which could not sufficiently share human resource data across different stores.

In a move that showcases how secure, Web-based portals are finding their way in brick-and-mortar businesses, ICSynergy will build the portal. FatWire's Spark content management will be integrated with the Sun Java System Portal to help business managers create and publish information, which will be accessed by employees through Sun's single sign-on services.

In the contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the largest healthcare insurer in the Bay State plans to move its existing identity management software to the Sun Java Enterprise System Network Identity Services under the aegis of Sun's professional services consultants.

BCBSMA will use the Java System Identity Server for Web access management, administration, self-service and federated identity management. In total, the healthcare concern will use the Java Enterprise System for more than 3,300 users on more than 100 systems in its business. Financial terms were not made public.

In other Sun news, the network computer vendor also redesigned its developer site to provide a more streamlined feel for the Java community. Three previously separate programs -- Java Developer Connection, Solaris Developer Connection and Java Wireless Developer Connection -- and 13 Web sites have been combined into one Sun Developer Network.

Supporting more than 3 million developers, the Sun Developer Network Web site includes network computing, Web services and Java tools.