BEA, IBM spar on Web services development

Taking the offensive in the battle of Web services development platforms, BEA Systems Inc. on Tuesday said its WebLogic Workshop platform requires fewer than one-fifth the amount of steps to build a simple Web service than IBM Corp.'s WebSphere Studio Application Developer. An IBM official quickly retorted that BEA's statements were "lame."

BEA officials claimed in a statement that the development of a Web service to accept and confirm an employee ID number took developers only five steps with Workshop as opposed to 28 steps in IBM's platform to partially replicate the same Web service.

"WebLogic is simply more productive than the WebSphere offering," said Todd Neilsen, chief marketing officer at BEA. IBM's platform requires significant code development, he said. BEA is challenging IBM to build a Web service in as few as 14 steps.

IBM's Scott Hebner, director of marketing at WebSphere, quickly rejected BEA's claims.

"I think what's happening here is they're trying to create distractions from the bottom line that their revenue is declining rapidly, so they come out with what I consider to be lame press releases like this," Neilsen said.

BEA revenues for the quarter ending July 31 were US$225.87 million, down from $267.76 million in the same quarter a year ago.

BEA's criteria were "subjective at best," Neilsen said. "Our challenge to BEA is they submit their tool and we'll submit our tool" to the same independent testing laboratory, said Neilsen.

WebLogic Workshop is a newly released tool with no market share and it and lacks functionality needed to build Web services applications, he said.

"I don't know what scenario they're talking about here," said Neilsen of BEA's test.

"What they describe isn't exactly a real life example. A real life example would be taking multiple back end applications and [melding] them into a workflow," Neilsen said.

A user of both IBM and BEA tools, however, said he preferred BEA's offering.

"It's a night-and-day difference," said Frank Cohen, CEO at PushToTest, a Campbell, Calif., company that builds automated solutions for testing Web services. WebLogic Workshop offered substantial productivity gains and offered visual tools, Cohen said.

However, Cohen said he would continue to use both tools, because WebSphere Studio Application Developer is good for developing remote procedure call-based Web services for WebSphere.

BEA's Neilsen said BEA is not losing customers to IBM. "In fact, in our last quarter, we announced with our financial earnings that we went up against IBM 220 times in the last quarter and of the 220 times we faced them, we beat them 210," meaning BEA won the account in all but 10 instances, Neilsen said.

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