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BEA AquaLogic SOA business dismantled

Busting the $300m dream

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BEA Systems' AquaLogic service oriented architecture (SOA) business, assembled through a multi-million dollar M&A splurge, is being dismantled it seems.

The Register has learned from individuals close to the company that BEA's new owner Oracle is merging the AquaLogic and WebLogic professional service teams. Oracle is also splitting the AquaLogic products between "web products" - user interaction, collaboration and the Web 2.0 suite - and AquaLogic business process management (BPM). The Web products originate from the Plumtree buy in 2005 and the BPM suite comes from the Fuego acquisition in 2006, deals that totaled nearly $300m.

It is understood the web products may be taken over by the Oracle team running Stellent content management, acquired by Oracle in November 2006, while BPM will be moved to the Oracle Fusion middleware brand.

Oracle is also asking AquaLogic professional services whether they'd prefer to work with the web suite or the BPM product.

It's further understood, meanwhile, that most of the former BEA staff to have been axed following the acquisition are in management with just a small number of professional services staff cut. Most cuts were in the US, with letters believed to have been sent to BEA's UK staff this week.

Oracle's cuts and re-organization appear to fall under the heading of "firm but fair". One insider told The Register that Oracle had been "very decisive" in making product decisions. "If they wanted you, you were in, if they didn't want you were out," the individual, who wished to remain anonymous, said. Oracle has also been "generous" in its layoff packages.

Oracle's decisiveness belies the fact BEA was unwilling, or unable, to rationalize its WebLogic and AquaLogic product lines and teams. This created structural issues, with former chief executive Alfred Chuang once admitting BEA's sales teams had been selling both products against each other.

The AquaLogic business resulted from the $200m cash purchase of .NET portal vendor Plumtree for its 750 customers, and the $87.5m purchase of BPM specialist Fuego. For all that, the deals failed to dramatically improve BEA's business results, and it even cited a "surprising" decline in sales. BEA did, though, wind up with a nice new marketing slogan "Think Liquid".

Oracle stuck to its preferred course of action in dealing with the press by not commenting on this article. Oracle this time said it's in its "quiet period". The company is due to announce its fourth-quarter and fiscal 2008 results on June 25.®

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