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Veritas and BEA Systems have awakened to the reality around them and decided to tackle the likes of IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems as a united front.

The two software makers today announced plans to develop, sell and market their products together. Veritas will toss in its software for managing server-side applications and for building clusters. These products will be combined with BEA's Weblogic application server and Tuxedo transaction processing engine. Together, the products make a stack similar to what IBM, Oracle and Sun offer as a complete package.

Veritas and BEA, however, maintain that as ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) their products are inherently more open than products from their larger rivals.

"Until now, deploying an integrated applications platform built on a utility computing infrastructure required a single vendor, hardware and software lock-in," said William Hurley, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Application Group, in the vendors' statement. "This alliance will provide a compelling alternative for customers by allowing existing heterogeneous hardware and software investments to form the foundation of a fully integrated utility computing infrastructure."

Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Veritas would seem to gain the most immediate benefit from the deal. Veritas, a dominant player in storage software, has been trying to carve out a place for itself on the server. What better way to push its OpForce, Indepth and ClusterServer products along than to hitch a ride on the back of BEA's popular WebLogic Server?

At present, the two companies have mapped out three distinct bundles.

The first is an "application performance" offering that includes Veritas' Indepth software and BEA's WebLogic Server. The Indepth product gathers a variety of performance metrics from the application server and can show users how to speed up software performance.

The second bundle combines Veritas' Cluster Server with WebLogic Server. The idea here is to create an "always up" application server configuration. Instead of running WebLogic on a pricey multiprocessor Unix box, customers could, for example, run it on a cluster of cheap Linux servers.

The last pairing combines Veritas' OpForce software, once again, with WebLogic. The OpForce product, which Veritas acquired in its Jareva buy, is designed to automate parts of the software deployment and management process. Using the product in tandem with WebLogic, administrators should be able to roll out a new application server at a much quicker clip than in the past.

So far, only the Cluster Server/WebLogic Server bundle is actually available, starting at $2,995. The OpForce/WebLogic pairing will go on sale in the second half of 2004. And, for the time being, Veritas is selling the Indepth product on its own for $4,000, adding that certain features have been tightly integrated with WebLogic.

Overall, these Java-centered products would have worked together pretty well already. Veritas and BEA, however, are signaling that they plan to try and combine sales where possible and that they hope to link their products together as much as possible. This is good news for the customer as it should lead to better, cheaper code.

The two companies do face some tough competition though. The big boys - IBM, Oracle and Sun - can combine their products in-house and adjust pricing as they see fit. Sun, for example, sells its entire enterprise software stack for $100 per employee to large companies.

But Veritas and BEA do have that whole openess thing going for them. Which, as Carl Spackler would say, is nice.

We've always thought a Veritas/BEA merger would be a smart move, especially in this era of consolidation where no ISV appears safe. Better to have BEA fighting the good fight than sitting in Larry's clutches, right? ®

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