BEA to unfurl new version of WebLogic

Taking aim at rival IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc. later this month will roll out bolstered version of its WebLogic integration and application servers.

WebLogic Integration Server 2.0 will feature J2EE connector architecture, an open framework used by applications servers to connect legacy software such as accounting, to mainframes. Ideally, the J2EE connector architecture would allow applications to "plug and play" with each other, instead of having to purchase a separate enterprise application integration product from suppliers such as webMethods Inc. and Tibco Software Inc.

The connector architecture is currently unidirectional, but BEA says it will release a bidirectional version in the coming months. In the mean time, the company is offering extensions to the connector architecture.

The Integration Server will run on top of the WebLogic application server, which is also coming out in July.

The company previously outlined the new features of WebLogic 6.1 at last month's JavaOne conference. The new version of the WebLogic application server will be the backbone of its Web services strategy, and include support for Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI). UDDI is a universal registry of resources, and WSDL standardizes the way services and their providers are described.

BEA previously said it would support Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and e-business XML (ebXML) in WebLogic 6.1. SOAP sends XML-based messages from one application to another over the Internet, and ebXML creates a standard XML dialect for businesses to find each other on the Web.

Analysts say BEA's upcoming WebLogic releases will continue its battle with IBM.

"It's becoming a real dogfight between the two," says Tyler McDaniel, an analyst at the Hurwitz Group. "BEA is determined to be the leader in infrastructure and [this announcement] keeps the pressure on contenders such as IBM, ATG, iPlanet and HP/Bluestone to do likewise." BEA just doesn't want to be known as just an application server company, and adding portal capability and integration technology helps the company round out its offering, McDaniel adds.

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