BEA + HP +Accenture + Linux = IBM?
Pluses and minuses
BEA WebLogic 8.1 has just gone GA, writes Peter Abrahams of Bloor Research. This gave BEA the opportunity to have a customer ra-ra session on Monday this week. The main messages were:
- The 8.1 Beta customers have been successful
- Lots more (160+) ISV are joining the BEA bandwagon
BEA is partnering with many Service Integrators, hardware purveyors and middleware software suppliers
- The BEA data integration product
- Liquid Data has been integrated into the 8.1 platform
However the main message from this announcement is that two of the partners are more equal than all the rest: Accenture as the premier SI, and HP as the premier hardware and systems software supplier. The implication is that to gain the highest return on investment and return on value requires input from all three. A decision to choose a product from one of the three suggests buying goods and services from the other two.
This directions begs several questions and suggests some answers.
Why HP rather than Sun? More BEA software is installed on Sun than HP. However there is a conflict of interest between BEA and Sun's software arm Sun One.
HP got rid of Bluestone and now there is a perfect fit with BEA supplying the software for HP environments. This is shown in a three-fold increase in the penetration of HP in the BEA customer set. It would seem that BEA and HP would expect that penetration to exceed Sun's in the foreseeable future. It is going to be interesting to see how Sun hardware reacts to this reducing revenue stream; will Sun One become a major part of its sales campaigns?
Accenture is easy to explain as it already has a good relationship with HP and sees IBM as the enemy. It would much rather install WebLogic than WebSphere because that reduces the risk that IBM will capture some of the services.
Linux is another bond between the three, with all actively promoting it and working together to increase its acceptance in the enterprise.
This leaves the other SIs and hardware vendors with a delicate balancing act to play. BEA is an important platform but how do you avoid HP and Accenture being dragged in?
Interestingly Microsoft hardly seems to come on to BEAs radar either as a partner or a competitor. IBM is seen as the bigger threat and efforts are concentrated on that battle.
So does BEA+HP+Accenture+Linux equal IBM? Nearly! They do provide hardware, software and services and only have minor overlaps, so together they are not dissimilar to IBM divisions.
There is one missing piece and that is the database. Oracle used to be the obvious partner but it competes directly against WebLogic with 9iAS. DB2 is the enemy so the options are limited - maybe an open source database or maybe extend NonStop SQL from HP to support other platforms.
Buying an application server, like Weblogic 7.0, used to be driven by the development community. But the decision for WebLogic 8.0 has potential hardware and services drag along. The decision now needs to be made at a strategic level and include a comparison of the benefits of buying everything just from BHAL against the flexibility of buying the bits independently.
In this open world with open standards and open source the idea was that plug and play, mix and match, would rule; but in reality we are likely to finish up with behemoths selling a total solution be it IBM, BHAL, possibly Sun, Microsoft or Oracle.
In summary, BEA + HP + Accenture + Linux equal something like IBM with all the positives and negatives implied in that statement.