BEA - M7 acquisition may boost BEA blending efforts

BEA Systems' acquisition Wednesday of Eclipse-based tools vendor M7 boosts BEA's strategy to blend open source and commercial software options, a company official and an industry analyst said.

M7's NitroX development environment supports open source and industry frameworks such as Struts, Hibernate, JavaServer Faces and JavaServer Pages. BEA's existing tools capabilities will be merged with M7's in a product due next year that will be called the BEA Workshop for Java IDE.

"[The acquisition] gives us tooling support for open source frameworks right away," said Bill Roth, vice president of product marketing at BEA.

"The other benefit is I think it underscores our blended approach to the business model. Because it is based on Eclipse, it strengthens our open source presence," Roth said. M7 also supports the rival WebSphere application platform from IBM, said Roth.

The M7 acquisition provides BEA with an opportunity to combine the worlds of open source and commercial application deployment, said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Soutions. BEA needs to persuade developers benefiting from open source to deploy on BEA's WebLogic platform, Gardner said.

Although BEA for the time being will have both its WebLogic Workshop IDE and BEA Workshop for Java on its plate, the plan is to merge existing tools and base the platform on Eclipse, Roth said. Packaging details are still being worked out, he said.

BEA would not disclose financial details of its M7 acquisition.

Another company preaching its embrace of open source at BEAWorld Wednesday was Sun Microsystems. During a keynote speech, Sun President and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz cited Sun's code contributions to open source, particularly 8 million lines of code from the StarOffice office applications package.

"Given the latest tallies, Sun is the largest contributor to open source," Schwartz said. He also touted Sun's now-open source Solaris operating system and even had a good word to say about Eclipse, an open source movement that Sun has declined to join. Sun has opted to stick with its own NetBeans open source tools platform.

"The reason why NetBeans has gotten so good, purely and simply, is because of Eclipse," and the competition it provides, Schwartz said.

Also during his presentation, Schwartz cited how the Internet and devices have changed the landscape in areas such as the media, with cell phone users able to relay reports of the recent London subway bombings before the media could get access to the site.

Schwartz also praised community participation in Java by parties such as BEA and others. "The community is the single most successful community in the history of computing," Schwartz said.

"It just continues to grow in value, not because Sun is standing on top of it, saying, 'Here's where we go next.' It's because we have a community of folks," said Schwartz.

He also played a video poking fun at rival Dell's servers. The video mocked the Dell units as generating a lot of heat, showing meat being cooked on a rotisserie that used heat generated from the server. Also, a data center worker was shown fighting to stay upright because of the high-powered fans required in the room.

Sun's hardware provides innovation and space conservation not offered in Dell systems, Schwartz said.

Earlier in the morning session, BEA officials including Chief Technology Officer Mark Carges touted BEA's AquaLogic Data Services Platform, which uses the AquaLogic Service Bus to help provide a single view of a customer. Officials also discussed the company's WebLogic console for the Tomcat server.

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