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Project Freeflow

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BEA Systems is reaching outside its traditional Java customer base using new products and making acquisitions in a strategy the company hopes will triple revenue during the next three years.

BEA's Project Freeflow, details of which are starting to emerge online, will combine development, management and security tools for customers to run Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) spanning different vendors' applications.

"It's the first time we have been in a position where our platform is multi-language," chief marketing officer Marge Breya said. She told The Register that Freeflow will help developers build composite applications and to also manage SOAs that span SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft and Microsoft's .NET - reaching far outside BEA's traditional Java customer base.

According to Breya, this will support some ambitious growth targets - chief executive officer Alfred Chuang has committed BEA to $3bn in revenue in three years, up from around $1bn today.

Also planned are acquisitions and partnerships, particularly in business processes, to help round-out tools for business-level developers.

All eyes will be on BEA and Freeflow. 2005 is a critical year, when BEA must reverse declining income from sales of new copies of WebLogic and convert last year's re-alignment around vertical sectors and VARs into new business.

Problem is, BEA faces growing competition from other platform providers which are also re-positioning around middleware, SOAs and composite applications. SAP is working to sign-up ISV partners to its NetWeaver composite application middleware strategy, while Oracle's Project Fusion is designed to develop a single architecture on Java and XML to unify its own diverse middleware stack.

Freeflow will both deliver new products and update existing components of BEA's WebLogic Java platform. A message manager and service repository designed to bring order to the distributed nature of SOAs, codenamed QuickSilver, will be new. Security will also be updated to include federated identity and rights management, and feature specifications from the jointly authored Microsoft and IBM WS- web services roadmap.

BEA will update its Liquid Data middleware to feature data modeling and an Integrated Composite Environment (ICE), used to construct composite applications, is expected to involve elements of BEA's WebLogic Workshop Java web services environment. ®

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