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SAP steals BEA's thunder

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BEA Systems has claimed industry-leading growth for its Java application server just as a fresh challenge has emerged from SAP, the business applications giant.

The company is claiming a year-on-year increase in WebLogic Server licensing revenue of 12 per cent, which beats market growth expectations from the analyst firm IDC.

BEA is borrowing a trick from Red Hat, which last month claimed it, too, out-grew analysts' market forecasts for Linux sales growth. BEA's latest numbers are unsurprising, as they had reached an all time low in mid-2004 falling up to eight per cent during one trading quarter alone, while revenue from services came to dominate the software company's sales mix.

Just as BEA insisted it was back in business, though, SAP has chipped in by claiming that its Java application server, and Java tools, are stealing WebLogic users from beneath BEA's nose.

Christopher Hearn, a director for SAP's solution marketing platform, told The Register it has become "increasingly common" for customers and ISV partners of BEA to dump WebLogic and adopt SAP's NetWeaver Application Server - previously known as In-Q-My.

SAP appears to be easing BEA out of accounts already running mySAP and SAP portal, which comes with NetWeaver's application server. Customers are migrating their application server code using the SAP's Eclipse-based NetWeaver Developer Studio.

According to Hearn, organizations using its software in conjunction with BEA's application server are consolidating infrastructure and cutting costs. NetWeaver Application Server is priced per user while WebLogic weights in at a hefty per-CPU charge, a fact that has also opened the door to free-to-download products such as JBoss.

Hearn said: "The portal... is becoming a de-facto point of access for SAP applications. The portal is running on the Java application server. The next thing [for customers] is to say: "I like Java and have this portal, but why do I need two application servers?'" He claimed SAP is also taking business from JBoss and IBM's WebSphere.

Blake Connell, director of BEA server product marketing, told The Register he hadn't come across "lots of deals" going to SAP, but claimed BEA is the industry's "only independent" Java vendor which doesn't have an agenda beyond selling its core infrastructure software.

"We are the only Java vendor without this ulterior motive of selling databases, SAP [software] or operating systems... customers are appreciating the fact [we] provide that focus and flexibility, as opposed to bundling lots of things," he said.

BEA, meanwhile, is gunning for growth with today's expected launch of BlueDragon, BEA WebLogic Edition. The latest addition to BEA's WebLogic family allows applications written in Macromedia's Cold Fusion Mark-up Language (CFML) to run on WebLogic without being re-written for Java.

BEA is targeting an estimated 125,000 servers running CFML and is charging $3,000 per CPU. BlueDragon, BEA WebLogic Edition uses technology licensed from specialist New Atlanta.

BlueDragon, BEA WebLogic Edition is an attempt to exploit uncertainty over CFML's future following Adobe Systems' purchase of Macromedia. BEA is giving CFML users a single source of support and maintenance having combined, and optimized, WebLogic with the BlueDragon technology from New Atlanta.

"There's certainly some unclarity on the acquisition and what the plans are for this [CFML] product line... it's just been somewhat opportunistic for us," Connell said. ®

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