RealTime IT News

BEA 'Rationalizes' SOA Strategy

WebLogic customers now have a roadmap to take their applications and portals onto a services-oriented architecture (SOA) model, with the launch of BEA Systems Enterprise Portal Rationalization (ERP) and Value Assessment Monday.

The initiative is aimed at what BEA officials say is a common problem in many of today's companies: a "Web sprawl" of applications and portals by software vendors that leaves blind-spots in the IT manager's view of the enterprise network. This leads to poor end-user adoption rates in the enterprise, BEA said.

Nils Gilman, director of product marketing at the San Jose, Calif.-based software company, said BEA recognizes most companies don't subscribe to one over-arching software platform strategy; many times, it's a grab bag of software products by different vendors.

"What we're trying to do is provide a basic framework that allows you to take your existing resources and have them talk to other resources in a way that's historically been difficult to do," he told internetnews.com.

To accomplish this goal, BEA is relying on its J2EE-based software in the WebLogic suite to "wrap and re-use" existing software packages and portal.

| For example, with disparate portal applications, a new Java standard -- Java Specification Request 168 (JSR-168) -- provides a common interface to allow them to speak with each other. Rather than "rip and replace" it, as BEA officials say, users can put a standards-based face on the application and bring it fully onto the WebLogic platform.

But even wrap and re-use has its challenges, which makes the BEA Business Value Assessment, a consulting component of WebLogic to help bring companies in-line with BEA vision of a SOA environment, crucial.

BEA consultants will visit a customer site to help then identify root causes for inefficiencies between disparate applications and portals. Then they will provide a best-practices solution and deliver the expertise to bring them together.

When asked if this services/software combination bears a strong resemblance to IBM's own SOA platform via Rational, Gilman was quick to point out the differences.

"For IBM, they really have a services strategy; BEA has a software strategy around this," he said. "[With] IBM, their answer to Web sprawl is to walk into a customer site and say, 'listen, sign over your entire IT department for life, the journey is the endpoint.' BEA has a very different philosophy, we believe software itself can get you to a more rational future, you're going to be able to take your existing assets and reuse them using infrastructure software."

He went on to say that with BEA, you're not saddled with a billion-dollar, five-year contract like you would be with IBM; once a customer works with BEA's services team to streamline a business network, he or she is done -- and at a fraction of the cost.

BEA is working with several other services vendors to make their Web sprawl initiative and services components work. On Monday, the company announced marketing and sales agreements with consulting firms Accenture , Hewlett-Packard Services and Enterpulse.