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Oracle ignores BEA out of existence

Tales of empire

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JavaOne US vice president Dick Cheney's 2003 Christmas card was a curious thing. The message? "If a sparrow can fall to the ground without His notice, it is likely that an empire can rise without His help?" This prompted the question: did Cheney and other neocons now view the US as an empire?

With the scalps of 40 companies since 2005 swinging form its belt, and with revenue growing, Oracle must also be confident in its own abilities to shape an entire industry and change reality, simply by ignoring issues out of existence.

That can be the only reason why a top Oracle executive glossed over the biggest thing to impact server-side Java in the last 12 months - namely its $8.5bn purchase of BEA Systems - during his Wednesday morning keynote at Sun Microsystems' annual Java love fest, JavaOne.

Not only did Oracle's server technologies development Thomas Kurian make the vaguest of mentions of this deal at the first JavaOne since the acquisition was announced and subsequently closed - a deal that saw the industry's number-two application server vendor swallowed by the number three, creating a virtual duopoly of IBM and Oracle - Kurian also failed to tackle with any level of seriousness what's in store for BEA's WebLogic under Oracle.

Kurian also failed to tackle licensing, and whether BEA customers can now expect to pay more under Oracle. An important consideration for a company that's happy to see its customers rip CPUs from their servers because they can't afford their Oracle bill.

Neither did Kurian offer any assurance to BEA users - or anybody else with a vested interest in open standards and competition - that Oracle would act responsibly on standards or technologies, now that the only "independent" voice in the enterprise Java field - someone who helped keep IBM and Oracle honest - has gone, leaving us in the hands of giants wielding increasingly integrated and "optimized" database, middleware and server stacks: IBM, Oracle and Sun.

Instead, what BEA developers and users got from Kurian during his JavaOne keynote was a cursory and rather curious "welcome" to JavaOne - like they'd never attended the show before (BEA has been a sponsor in past years) - along with a welcome to the Oracle "family".

"A particularly warm welcome to the customers and partners and developers of BEA Systems. We want to welcome you to both this conference and the Oracle family," Kurian said.

For the rest of his allotted 60-minutes, Kurian dived into a potted talk on trends in Java development that referenced BEA's WebLogic and AquaLogic. WebLogic was a BEA staple used by thousands of customers while AquaLogic was a growing segment of business, accounting for around a quarter of BEA revenue each quarter.

In the scenarios he presented, Kurian outlined WebLogic and AquaLoigc as sources of data that can be mashed up, managed and searched just like other wikis, blogs and Oracle's own software. Kurian also talked with some degree of enthusiasm about BEA's super-fast JRockit Java Virtual Machine

Reading between the lines, we can surmise Oracle at least recognizes it must work with the considerable WebLogic and the growing AquaLogic installation bases, if not actually continue development of individual products in these families in any significant or innovative way.

So far, the most we've had from Oracle was a commitment from chief executive Larry Ellison to continue BEA's products under its rather broad and engineering resource-hungry Applications Unlimited strategy. There's been nothing on what's getting axed from the overlapping application server, portal, service oriented architecture and tools portfolios.

Then, that can hardly be surprising. Oracle must maintain the façade that all's well, otherwise it'll be open season on BEA for open- and closed-source rivals exploiting uncertainties among end users and developers.

No, the only tangible offered during Kurian's 60 minutes was this: BEA's dev2dev developer network - a source of code, whitepapers and other resources - will be added to the existing Oracle Technology Network.

Otherwise Kurian - introduced minutes beforehand by Sun chief researcher and director of the science office John Gague as "one of the greatest friends of Java" - promoted a relatively minor update to Oracle's tools for Eclipse and offered yet-more previews of Oracle's delayed Fusion middleware.

Kurian announced Oracle's Enterprise Pack for Eclipse, a set of certified plug-ins for Java Standard and Enterprise Edition development using JavaServer Faces, XML, Spring, Struts, CSS and JavaScript. He also previewed more forthcoming features in Fusion Middleware 11g, which was - itself - previewed last November.

All in all, an act of imperial arrogance, but noting less than we've come to expect from a company that invents its own reality, and if you don't fit in - then tough.®

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