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BEA Systems: long term logic

New version of its Weblogic Workshop

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Much has changed in the 12 months since BEA Systems unveiled the first version of its web services development environment WebLogic Workshop. BEA now seems to be in the second phase of what is emerging as a long-term strategy to win the backing of enterprise developers.

Workshop 8.1, which was formally announced in March 2003, broadens the reach of its predecessor. The new version has been integrated with BEA's WebLogic Portal and WebLogic Integration, going beyond just the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) WebLogic Server.

Workshop 8.1 is a recognition that much web services work is and for some time will continue to take place in the spaghetti-like world of enterprise application integration (EAI), not the stratosphere of online services. Support for integration means simplified EAI that will help BEA win business from IBM, whose own integration is driven by Global Services.

But this represents only the beginning of phase two. To attract sustained growth, BEA must round out its EAI and integration story because it offers very little in the way of unique EAI. Despite dismissing vendors like webMethods Inc as "niche", BEA uses adapters based on the generally available Java Connector Architecture. Acquisition of companies with either unique technologies or vertical market skills should be expected.

BEA also this year introduced phase two for its dev2dev community, and began to give away developer seats. Such changes lock developers' minds and pockets into its platform, and partnerships with companies like ComponentSource will mean that developers are given the J2EE software they need to build WebLogic applications and services.

However, BEA's campaign among the grassroots remains a long haul not a sprint, as proved by the company's failure to reach a desired goal of one million developers by December 2002. BEA enjoyed a rough-and-tumble year in 2002, making great play out of the business that it won from its number-one competitor IBM in both application servers and business integration. However, development of large-scale Web services using the first version of Workshop failed to materialize.

Workshop 8.1 and changes to BEA's community program should help the company to drive the stake it planted last year deeper into the enterprise space.

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