BEA beefs up developer, SOE initiatives

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BEA Systems aims to add muscle to its developer initiatives, said Cornelius Willis, the company's new vice president of developer marketing.

Willis, who took the position in November, said BEA is working on a host of technologies to better enable developers to build and deploy J2EE applications and service-oriented architectures (SOAs), or architectures that use web services to connect various application functionality.

This week, the company plans to release a new version of its WebLogic software that allows developers to deploy applications on a limited basis at a cost-effective price.

BEA WebLogic Workshop Professional Edition includes the entire WebLogic Platform -- WebLogic Server, WebLogic Portal, WebLogic Integration and the visual development tool, Workshop -- with an unlimited developer license and a limited deployment license for US$995, Willis said. The deployment license covers five IP connections, which can support five to 10 users at a time, depending on the underlying network.

BEA branded the release with the 'Workshop' moniker because that product is the main way that BEA interfaces with developers, Willis said. The company hopes to reach more developers and upsell to other software products with the new release, which will allow developers to build prototypes or deploy small-business applications, he said.
'It's a throttle to sell more software. We're giving developers something to show co-workers,' with the hope they will want to deploy it on a larger scale, Willis said.

A full development version of Workshop, including the entire WebLogic suite, is currently available free, but developers must buy licenses to deploy on that version. Willis said BEA will continue to distribute the free version of Workshop to developers.

BEA now has between 400,000 and one million WebLogic developers and aims to add many more under its new initiatives, Willis said, declining to provide exact numbers.

BEA executives have been reluctant to specify the current number of WebLogic developers because several years ago, the company set a goal to reach 1 million developers by the end of 2002 but later had to drastically lower that number when it was obvious that it couldn't be met.

Willis, who previously led the Visual Basic marketing team at Microsoft under BEA Chief Marketing Officer Tod Nielsen, said BEA also is working on SOA-enabling technologies under a project code-named Sierra. The effort will provide 'prescriptive' technologies for helping developers build SOAs on the J2EE platform.
'There has not been enough guidance on how to build SOAs,' Willis said. 'Sierra describes a long-term vision.'

Willis declined to comment on how the technologies from Sierra -- which will be provided at the tools and integration layer of software infrastructure -- would be integrated into BEA's product strategy. He said BEA plans to make a series of announcements between now and its eWorld show at the end of May that will clarify Project Sierra.

SOAs also have been a hot topic of late for IBM, BEA's chief Java software infrastructure rival. Bob Sutor, IBM's director of WebSphere infrastructure software, recently went on a press tour to explain the importance of SOAs and how IBM is building SOA support throughout its WebSphere software stack.

Sutor said SOAs are integral to making web services-based integration work in a world of technologically disparate systems. 'You have your own infrastructure. I have my own infrastructure,' Sutor said. '[SOAs] are about how we bridge those things and how we jump across the internet.'

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