Next transformation deconstructs conventional products into mix-and-match service components

BEA's evolution from Java to service-oriented architecture (SOA) provider reflects the larger trend of the middle tier becoming the next enterprise software battleground. With the emergence of SOA commoditizing software architecture, and Web services standards starting to level the playing field on how software applications expose functionality, the path is cleared for emergence of composite ap...

07/01/2007


BEA's evolution from Java to service-oriented architecture (SOA) provider reflects the larger trend of the middle tier becoming the next enterprise software battleground. With the emergence of SOA commoditizing software architecture, and Web services standards starting to level the playing field on how software applications expose functionality, the path is cleared for emergence of composite applications that blur the lines of power.

Like rivals IBM and Oracle , BEA has been building its middle-tier stack, adding portals, business process management, business activity dashboards, data integration services, and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). The results show BEA as a company undergoing its second major transition. Just as the emergence of WebLogic circa 1999 eclipsed BEA's original Tuxedo transaction management offering as the world began to embrace J2EE, today the story is SOA and AquaLogic.

Like IBM, BEA approaches the applications world as an outsider. Unlike IBM, it doesn't offer extensive consulting, and is not even pretending to go near the application layer by adding content. And it doesn't sport products that border on applications, like master data management. The closest it gets is AquaLogic BPM, which slices and dices functionality from enterprise application silos, and happens to be its fastest-growing product.

Otherwise, BEA has typically emphasized technology infrastructure, and over the past year it announced a new architecture that could eventually deconstruct and unify its product lines, from SOA to Java and the legacy Tuxedo transaction monitor. BEA's microService Architecture (mSA) is a strategy to deconstruct conventional products into service components that could be mixed and matched.

At this point, BEA has yet to implement the mSA strategy, but it laid the groundwork with recently released integration between its AquaLogic Service Bus ESB and the WebLogic Integration EAI product. You could design a process orchestration within WebLogic Integration's tools, and then click on an ESB icon that switches you to the ESB offering, where you specify the actual service interactions. Although not a seamless integration, it provides a glimpse of how the mSA architecture could eventually transform the BEA product stack.

In another move to branch out from its Java roots, BEA is embracing what it calls “blended source,” which includes support of official Java EE standards and selected open-source alternatives, such as the Spring framework, which simplifies interaction with J2EE APIs; and the Open JPA framework, an open-source implementation of the EJB 3 Persistence specification. The significance of blended source is that it supports some of the open-source frameworks that emerged as simpler alternatives to J2EE.

“J2EE came about because some high-end vendors wanted to deal with customers who had high-end problems,” says BEA developer evangelist Bill Roth, adding, “Rod Johnson [inventor of Spring] understood what it took to put together an 80-percent solution.”

BEA also recently unified its two Java integrated development environments (IDE), converging its development tools under an Eclipse-compliant shell, and supporting the latest Java EE standards. n





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