Mark Carges, Chief Technology Officer, BEA Systems

Jeff HawkinsBEA Systems is adrift on an ocean of information these

One of the top middleware providers in the world, the company has set sail
on a course for “enterprise liquidity,” where bits and bytes of data are
exchanged seamlessly between applications with no regard to the technology.

Just a year after flirting with the Liquid Computing brand and code-names
like QuickSilver and Alchemy, the San Jose, Calif., company has settled on
another water-oriented brand and product family: Think Liquid and AquaLogic.

The idea of computing being liquid, BEA executives explained during a press event in New York earlier this month, is that information
flows seamlessly from one network to the next, buoyed by a complex model
called a services infrastructure.

Service infrastructure is simply BEA rendering of a service-oriented
architecture (SOA) , a distributed computing model in which Web
services are often shuttled from network to network as a form of
communication among software.

Armed with Think Liquid and AquaLogic, BEA hopes to saturate the market and
soak up market share from rivals IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. BEA CTO
Mark Carges recently discussed the plotting of BEA course.

Q: What is the essence of AquaLogic?

We recognized a need for infrastructure to support service networks, or what
we call service infrastructure, after seeing customers work with our product
over the last couple of years to build out service-oriented architectures.
We observed their services portfolio and saw some things that needed to

Services need to be extremely heterogeneous, not constrained by any
particular technology. The existing services are in mainframes, packaged
applications — new and old — and so on.

That heterogeneity needs to be
tied together in a neutral fashion. XML and Web services certainly meet that
need. But the way to tie these together requires a set of technologies that
are independent and neutral from those different endpoints.

We asked: Would J2EE-based, developer-oriented technology be what you’re going to need to tie together your service backbone and service networks? Or would a particular type developer model or would writing code be a way to solve
these problems?

We said it’s not about writing code or buying code and endpoints. What’s important in the service network is the ability to bring everything together and
manage it, compose it and see the policy.

The realization behind AquaLogic
is that we wanted to provide a set of technologies for a service network
that was independent of the technology of the endpoints, but that could
integrate with heterogeneous endpoints. That’s AquaLogic.

Q: Where does the WebLogic platform and brand fit into this mix?

The important point is: Who is it aimed at? Who uses it? WebLogic is aimed
at developers writing code.

They see the Java, they write to J2EE standards.
With AquaLogic, the users of those tools will be interfacing with policy
tools, configuration tools, management tools — not development tools. There
won’t be a WebLogic Workshop-type tool for developers in AquaLogic.

We talked about Composer at our launch. That is a type of tool that will allow you to compose your enterprise business process, or to put portals together via federation. But you’re not going to be writing code. If all the tech and products are part of a WebLogic developer-centric brand, what we’re
advocating to the world that only way to do SOA is to write code. We
recognize there is a time and place for writing code and a time and place to
leverage metadata and to enunciate separately from code.

Q: The heterogeneity factor seems to be one major hallmark of the SOA as we
know it. Can you elaborate on that?

I tell customers we need to look at how to service-enable the
applications you have regardless of where they live. The minute you do that
you’ll realize there’s going to be the 30-year-old mainframe that does its
provisioning thing from the last two or three decades, as well as a new Siebel
app, and Web-based apps built on .NET or BEA.

All of them will ultimately
become part of what you’re going to service-enable and consume. One, you have
to have a tech-neutral way of looking at it, and two, you have to separate
where you write code from where you’re building and managing the code that
someone’s already written. I’m a firm believer that if you actually get to
SOA and you’re reusing services, at some point in time someone has to put
their pencils down and stop writing code. You have to reuse and have tools
to reuse what you already have.

Q: Gartner latest application and middleware market stats list IBM at
37.2 percent while BEA tallied only 7.2 percent. Is AquaLogic the answer to
regaining market share?

On market share, I don’t believe for a second we’re No. 2. The reason I can
say that so boldly is that our rev numbers speak to the license rev of our products.

There is no other company in the planet that has rev numbers
broken out, let alone what is shelf ware versus what is deployed. A lot of
IBM and Oracle sales are wrapped into other deals but never deployed. In
many, many accounts we’re in, supposedly all of the stuff that other
competitors have sold and sits on shelves is counted as market share.
Meanwhile they’re writing checks to BEA.

It’s not like in the database days
where you can look at Oracle, Informix and Sybase revenues and say, “Well
they all do DB so here it is.” I would contend that in deployment we’re the
No. 1-deployed app server on the planet.

As far as what AquaLogic does from a growth standpoint, it puts us into new
opportunities that would not have been addressable before with WebLogic. We
will continue to grow and invest in the WebLogic brand for developers, work
around Eclipse in Workshop, WebLogic 9 [Diablo].

And as enterprises move to
SOA, WebLogic will be a great platform for creating and consuming these
services. AquaLogic will be a good complement when you’re looking to tie
this all together whether it’s WebLogic or J2EE. We see that as being a
competitive message.

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