BEA ships suite of social computing tools

Aims to help IT bring Web 2.0 technologies to the enterprise

BEA Systems Monday began shipping three new products aimed at spreading Web 2.0 technologies into the enterprise to help business users more easily tap corporate content.

The new so-called social computing suite will provide corporate developers, IT operations personnel and end-users with tagging, advanced search, mashup and widget technologies, the company said.

For some companies, the tools will answer a growing demand from younger employees to tap Web 2.0 tools they commonly use outside of work for internal corporate collaboration and communication, said Ajay Gandhi, BEA's director of product marketing.

"There's a lot of demand for those business users ... to get the tools they have been using on the consumer Web," he said. "There this disconnect between what is available for free on the consumer Web and what corporations are providing (to employees)."

Some companies, he added, also view wikis and other social networking and Web 2.0 tools as a way to help break down some of the silos born out of disparate enterprise applications in companies.

The BEA products can ensure that Web 2.0 tools plug into an existing IT infrastructure including, security technology, portals and service-oriented architecture plumbing, Gandhi added. "Not everyone is going to want to turn on a switch and say, 'Have at it' and have chaos reign," he said.

AquaLogic Pages, one of the three new tools, will allow business users to build simple Web applications that foster collaboration and data sharing. For example, a user could build an enterprise mashup by dragging and dropping data from an enterprise system like customer relationship management with external Web data sources like RSS feeds, Gandhi said.

AquaLogic Pathways links the notion of social bookmarking with tagging, he added. The tool allows end users to tag and bookmark corporate content, and to search for content based on their role in the company. For example, the results provided to an engineer in a content search would differ from those provided to a marketing employee.

The third tool, AquaLogic Ensemble, can help developers and IT operations staff create and manage enterprise mashup applications, BEA said. It provides provisioning and activity tracking capabilities, the company said.

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