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Analysis According to Alfred Chuang, chairman and CEO, BEA plans to triple in size over the next three or so years, going from a $1bn company to $3bn. For a well-established company this is an aggressive target; so why does he think it can be done?

The simple maths are that BEA has about 10 per cent of the total application infrastructure market and intends to increase that share, but that is market is not growing at a rate that will provide the tripling effect. Chuang sees the real growth coming from a new market sector called service infrastructure. The prediction for this sector is that it will be twice the size of application infrastructure within three years; if BEA gets its 'rightful' share of this sector that will enable the tripling in size.

Having set this simple corporate goal, what are BEA's plans to execute? They can be categorised as:

  • An Architecture
  • New and improved products and service
  • A roadmap
  • New marketing
  • Increased selling
  • Improved delivery capability

The architecture is the vital part as it drives the rest. The key message from the architecture is that the industry is moving away from traditional Application Development to Composite Application creation - that is, from coding and compiling to composition and configuration. To do this requires a Service Infrastructure which is made up of:

  • Message Services (Quicksilver)
  • Composite data management (Liquid data)
  • Security Services (Enterprise security)
  • Process orchestration (Process)
  • User Interaction (Portal)

All of which exist already to a greater or lesser extent, but to enable the effective creation of composite applications requires an Integrated Composition Environment (ICE). An ICE is the equivalent of the integrated development environment(IDE) for application development, but it goes further as it is involved in the move into production, and the monitoring and control of the production environment, as well as the development phase. With Composite Applications the division between development and production is much more fluid because it needs to be able to change in time with the requirements of an agile enterprise.

BEA will bring all the products in this space together under the codename 'Freeflow'. Expect to see announcements related to Freeflow starting in the summer and going through 2006.

Obviously, this is closely related to the general industry hype around Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and BEA is increasing the consultancy and services to support SOA. One of the interesting initiatives in this area is an SOA Readiness Self Assessment, which can be taken free of charge on the BEA website. The assessment takes a holistic view of readiness by making it clear that technology is only a part of SOA and probably the easier area to make ready. BEA divides the readiness into six areas:

  • Business Strategy and Process
  • Architecture
  • Building Blocks
  • Projects and Applications
  • Organisation and Governance
  • Cost and Benefits

This is a very good set of discussion areas; it shows that if SOA is going to be successfully deployed, putting a bit of software in is only a sixth or less of the effort.

I have not talked about BEA's marketing or sales as these are being finalised but expect this to become more public in the summer.

So will the company treble in size? There appears to be a credible strategy and we will just have to see if the tactics based on the strategy will actually deliver. Growing any company that quickly is a challenge, let alone one as big as BEA, but there is little doubt that it will grow significantly. I think that however successful it is, it will have a beneficial effect on the whole of this market area, as other big players react and respond.

Copyright © 2005, IT-Analysis.com

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