BEA Systems stressed convergence as the order of the day Monday at the BEA eWorld conference, which featured the introduction of the company's WebLogic Platform 8.1 J2EE application deployment suite.
The platform was built from scratch with the intention of unifying application development and integration, said BEA chairman and CEO Alfred Chuang, who also is a founder of the company. The platform presents a single environment sharing common code, supporting enterprise application integration and development, portals, workflows, and Web services, he said.
"WebLogic 8.1 is not just a tool. It's truly convergence at all levels," Chuang said. "I believe the launch of BEA WebLogic Platform 8.1 will help mark 2003 as a major inflection point in the history of enterprise computing."
In a question and answer session following his keynote presentation, Chuang suggested business process-oriented programming will be the next wave in computing. This type of programming mimics business processes, so that ultimately programming can be done by end-users.
"The days of process-based programming are right around the corner. It's very, very exciting," said Chuang.
WebLogic 8.1 features a unified security model across all platform components, providing for a constant mechanism for securing applications, portals, and business processes, according to BEA.
Included in WebLogic Platform 8.1 are new versions of the following products, also carrying the version number 8.1:
* WebLogic Server application server, featuring cluster configuration and offering Web services security and an infrastructure for delivering SOAP messages. Performance is improved 30 percent over the previous version.
* WebLogic Workshop, presenting a services-oriented development environment and a control architecture for rapid application assembly and reuse of business best practices.
* WebLogic Integration, providing for quicker integration.
* WebLogic Portal, for production and management of custom-fit portals. It supports the Java portlet standard, JSR 168, for portlet-level development, as well as JSR 170 for content management system integration.
OneWorld attendee said BEA was on the right path with the Platform product.
"It seems like the way to go," said Scott Krall, president of 4Point Technologies, an ISV in McLean, Va. , that leverages BEA technology. "They're solving all the points of integration."
But he cautioned, "Of course, I'll believe it when I see it."
The 8.1 versions of WebLogic Server and JRockit, which is BEA's Java Virtual Machine, are due to ship this spring. The integrated WebLogic Platform 8.1 ships this summer.
Also at the show, Chuang in a press conference downplayed Sun Microsystems' decision in 2001 to bundle a J2EE application server with the Solaris operating environment, noting that a BEA application server also is included.
"I spent 10 years with Sun. What are they calling the application server this time around?" Chuang asked. "If I really believe a hardware company can do software, I would have my foot on my desktop looking out my window."
Sun Microsystems Inc. remains one of BEA's closest partners, said Chuang.
Chuang also applauded the open-source JBoss J2EE application server, but stressed that users still want a mission-critical environment for application deployment.
"No one is writing an application directly on the Linux API," said Chuang.