BEA's Quicksilver expected in 2005

BEA Systems will distribute an early test version of Quicksilver, a messaging product designed to help customers deploy a services oriented architecture (SOA), with the next major release of its WebLogic server software, company officials said Tuesday.

SOA is the theme of BEA's eWorld conference in San Francisco this week. The term refers to a model of programming based on the idea of reusable services, where a service could be an application, a service such as user authentication, or even a component of an application.

The idea of a SOA isn't new, but the proliferation of applications and middleware that support Web services standards has made the model an easier one to pursue, analysts said.

BEA's Quicksilver product, announced Tuesday, will serve a dual role, acting as an enterprise service bus for shuttling data between different systems, as well as a tool for managing Web services, BEA officials said. The goal is to help customers create a more flexible environment in which applications can be altered to meet changing business needs without needing to rewrite code.

BEA plans to release an "alpha" version of Quicksilver when it releases the next major release of its WebLogic Platform, version 9.0, said Scott Dietzen, BEA's chief technology officer, in a speech here Tuesday morning.

Analysts expect a beta version of WebLogic Platform 9.0 to be available by the end of the year, with the final product due some months after that. That means Quicksilver is unlikely to ship in its final form before the start of 2005, said Shawn Willett, a principal analyst with Current Analysis.

Quicksilver will help to bridge the interoperability gap between BEA's products and those of other vendors, including IBM's WebSphere and Microsoft's .Net software, according to BEA officials. In that sense, BEA is broadening its role beyond its own WebLogic platform, Willett said.

Talking to reporters after his speech this morning, Alfred Chuang, BEA's founder, chairman and CEO, set an aggressive target of tripling the company's annual revenue over five years, to US$3 billion. In its most recent fiscal year, it tipped $1 billion revenue for the first time.

"I know it's a very lofty goal but I think it's something we can achieve. Right now we are the fifth largest enterprise software company; we'd ultimately like to be the biggest," he said.

He brushed off BEA's less-than-stellar results reported last month for its first fiscal quarter. Total revenue for the period ended April 30 climbed 11 percent from a year earlier to US$262.6 million, but revenue from the sale of software licenses fell by 2 percent, lower than BEA had anticipated. It blamed the ongoing transition to WebLogic 8.1, and disruption in its North American sales channel.

SOAs represent the wave of the future and BEA is well-positioned for long-term growth, Chuang said Tuesday.

"It's not about just 90-day execution," Chuang said. "I wouldn't look at a few million dollars short of license revenue to be a failure in any way, shape or form."

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