BEA Blends App Creation, Process Management


Following up on its promise to deliver service-oriented architecture (SOA)
products at a time when the market has few, BEA Systems
trotted out a new version of its application server that combines
application creation with business process management (BPM).


The software maker believes BEA WebLogic Server Process
Edition is an attractive offer at a time when customers have been using two
software engines to tie distributed computing models such as SOAS
, to business processes, also known as BPM.


The Java-based server enables composite application development and
orchestrates services, such as airline ticket purchases and other
transactions, from one integration development environment (IDE). WLS
Process Edition provides BPM, data transformation and process monitoring
capabilities as part of the app server for building service applications.


Previously, programmers who wished to create applications and run them with
policies to coordinate their business workflows had to have two distinct
software engines: an application run-time environment, such as WebLogic, and
a separate engine for process management, such as Microsoft BizTalk.


“It’s the first time anyone has offered an application server that’s
converging the traditional development environment we know and love with
business process management and some other functionality, as well,” said
Peter Linkin, senior director of product marketing at BEA. “This meets the
intersection of what customers want to see between app development and BPM.”


Forrester Research backs up BEA’s integration foresight. In a recent report,
the analysis outfit listed BEA as the only vendor among rivals IBM , Microsoft and Oracle to
offer a unified programming model for composite applications.


Having two engines in one will help customers save considerable cash in
licensing fees, Linkin told internetnews.com. For example, the
average application server costs between $15,000 and $17,000 per processor. A BPM engine
usually costs in the range of $25,000 to $30,000 per processor


Linkin said BEA is offering the WLS Process Edition for $27,000 per processor, making the
ability to create and deploy SOA environments a more cost-effective choice.
Available now, WLS Process Edition already has one major customer, Covad,
which is using the server to automate service changes over its national
network.


The product is the first in what is likely to be a comprehensive SOA
roll-out from BEA, which unveiled
its Liquid Computing strategy at its eWorld conference in May.


At the conference in San Francisco, BEA officials demonstrated Alchemy, the
company’s mobile version of that vision to help match computing services
with the needs of users on the go, as well as QuickSilver, an enterprise
service bus.

The timing is salient, as IBM has already kicked
the tires on its SOA strategy, with a foundational SOA tool. Moreover,
Microsoft is well into its
development of its Indigo SOA environment.


There is also evidence that the BPM space is percolating interest. Two weeks
ago, Oracle bolstered its SOA offerings by acquiring Collaxa and integrating its BPEL engine. Last week, start-up
Active Endpoints ceded its BPEL engine under the GNU General Public License
(GPL).

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