BEA seeks open source accommodation

At face value, it might appear that BEA Systems has its work cut out for it competing with free, open source alternatives to its own commercially available WebLogic Server application server platform.

But the company does not see it that way.

"We're using about 50 open source frameworks and projects," in our products, said Franz Aman, vice president of audience marketing at BEA. The company also is driving efforts such as the Eclipse Web Tools Project and has supported the Apache Beehive component model technology.

"Open source is totally cool," Aman said. BEA seeks to enable blending of both open source and commercial technologies.

Accommodating more open source application frameworks will be a key theme of the BEAWorld conference in Santa Clara, Calif., beginning Sept. 27. Five similar conferences are planned around the globe for later dates. Frameworks such as Struts and Hibernate are expected to be certified for use with the company's WebLogic Server application server. BEA already has expressed its support of the Spring framework.

"Enterprise Java is hard to develop. These frameworks, they really help make it easier. It basically means that you have to write less code; it also means that you have best practices going forward," said Aman.

Customers can mix and match open source frameworks with BEA's WebLogic Workshop development environment for Java, Aman said.

BEA maintains that its commercial WebLogic platform provides commercial-grade features needed in enterprise applications and lacking in open source offerings. Open source platforms such as Tomcat and Geronimo can serve as a starting point toward moving to a BEA enterprise solution, according to the company.

BEA is looking to make an ally of open source, said Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis.

"It's a threat that they are trying to make into a friend," Willett said in an e-mail.

Noting the JBoss open source application server is produced by the commercial company of the same name, Willett said BEA is eyeing other open source platforms.

"JBoss is an open source threat, but JBoss is also a commercial firm. BEA is trying to use other open source avenues, such as Eclipse or Apache, to promote their architecture, and thus gain an eventual commercial advantage with their products," Willett said.

BEA also plans to talk about its new enterprise service bus at the conference. The company in August began shipping its AquaLogic Service Bus product. But BEA officials on Friday would not discuss what the shipment volumes have been thus far.

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