BEA details app server plans

Having just shipped its WebLogic Server 7.0 application server in April, BEA Systems is now mapping out enhancements for the next version, including self-management capabilities and greater administrative control.

The company's vision for the next version of WebLogic due in about a year calls for self-healing capabilities in which the system would take steps to fix a condition based on specific parameters. More visibility into the system for administrators and greater developer productivity also are on tap, according to Eric Stahl, director of product marketing for BEA WebLogic Server.

The next release is focused on the notion of usability, Stahl said during an interview at BEA offices in San Jose, Calif., on Friday. Functionality such as the ability to distribute applications across clusters of computers also will be enhanced in the upgrade, according to Stahl.

Meanwhile, another BEA official on Friday said he believes BEA will continue successfully to sell WebLogic Server for the Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris operating platform despite Sun's announcement this week it is integrating the iPlanet application server and its new Solaris 9 OS.

"We have history on our side," said Wynn White, senior director of product marketing at BEA. The company would continue to leverage features such as clustering, price performance, security, and ISV support, White said. He added that he did not believe application servers would become a commodity item but would continue to require specialization and differentiation.

Asked if Sun's bundling plan was similar to what Microsoft Corp. has done in tacking previously separate functions onto its Windows OS, White replied, "That's exactly what they're doing."

BEA executives also detailed today the company is looking to evolve its development tools to make it easier for business analysts to deploy Web services and offload this potential burden from developers.

In addition, BEA is developing a subscription-based, multi-level developer program to be unveiled in the second half of the year offering developers a variety of development services. The first tier of the program would be free and feature software documentation and access to support and training. Higher levels of the program would be fee-based and feature offerings such as 24-by-7 support, access to alpha software, and access to staging servers for applications.

Finally, the company is also looking to develop a BEA-branded version of the jRockit Java Virtual machine for Windows and Linux, due to ship this summer. The product has been available under the Appeal nameplate prior to BEA's acquisition of Appeal.

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