BEA aims 'Da Vinci' software at telcos

BEA Systems has rolled out a new version of its Java application server software aimed specifically at telecommunications providers, part of a broad push to increase business from one of its traditionally stronger markets.

The new product, called WebLogic SIP Server, includes integrated support for SIP (session initiation protocol), a specification for initiating various types of user sessions over IP (Internet Protocol) networks including voice calls and videoconferences. The software will make it easier for service providers to roll out voice over IP and other advanced services while keeping their costs down, BEA said Monday.

WebLogic SIP Server is the first of a series of carrier infrastructure products that BEA plans to offer in the coming months. A second, called WebLogic Network Gatekeeper, will help carriers manage quality-of-service and billing issues for services and also provide a software platform for integrating third-party applications, BEA said. That product is still being developed and is planned for delivery by about June, the company said.

The offerings are all part of BEA's WebLogic Communications Platform, which the company first discussed late last year under the code name Project Da Vinci. The platform will include additional standards-based products as well as some new service offerings, BEA said Monday.

The company is hoping to capitalize on a period of transition in the telecom sector, where service providers, faced with declining revenue from voice calls, have been upgrading networks and developing new services in a bid to find new business. BEA's new products will help carriers keep costs down as they try to roll out these converged "mobile data" services, which also include e-mail, messaging, calendaring and games, the company said.

The initiative comes at a rocky time for BEA. Once the clear leader of the Java application server market, in recent years it has watched its rivals, notably IBM and Oracle, improve both their products and their share of the market. At the same time, several prominent BEA staff left the company last year, including Chief Technology Officer Scott Dietzen and Adam Bosworth, a chief architect responsible for longer-term initiatives.

BEA plans to invest heavily in the telco offerings, which will form a key part of its long-term strategy, Alfred Chuang, BEA's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement Monday. The company already has a strong following among telecom providers, he noted. BEA's first product for telcos, Tuxedo, along with its WebLogic Server, are widely used in the industry for running billing systems, the company said.

SIP is an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) specification that aims to provide a universal signalling protocol for all kinds of real-time sessions over IP networks, including voice and data services. BEA's implementation of SIP complies with the SIP servlet specification developed through the Java Community Process, the company said.

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