BEA pursues entry-level Java developers market

BEA Systems Inc. on Tuesday will pursue departmental developers with a price reduction on its WebLogic Express application server, intended for basic Web site development, and the launch of WebLogic Server, Workgroup Edition, a more full-featured application server that is limited to use by 20 developers.

Also as part of its pursuit of the entry-level applications market, the company will announce an e-mail-based support option for departmental developers, called dev2dev, as well as an online sales channel called BEA Storefront.

In catering its offerings to departments, BEA seeks to fulfill what it termed a growing demand as well as need to help enterprises standardize.

"BEA has done well with central, large IT shops, and they increasingly have wanted to standardize their servers across the enterprise, so they're putting more pressure on departmental-level applications and departmental-level IT groups to adopt a common platform," said Frazier Miller, BEA director of product strategy, in San Jose, Calif.

An analyst described BEA's wooing of departments as both competitive and growth minded.

"In a sense, they're responding a little bit to IBM," said Shawn Willett, principal analyst for Current Analysis, which is based in Sterling, Va. "IBM came out with the WebSphere Application Server Express last year."

A saturated market has BEA pursuing lower end opportunities, Willett said.

"I think they, like the other application server vendors, are looking for growth because the market is somewhat saturated. So they're looking for growth both in the high end and the low end and this is the low end," Willett said.

BEA still needs a comprehensive plan for selling to small- and medium-size enterprises in addition to its departmental offerings, he said.

WebLogic Express, a Java Servlet engine with Java Server Pages and Servlet technologies, allows for basic Web site development such as building corporate Web sites. To attract departmental developers, BEA is cutting the price of the product from US$3,000 per CPU to US$649 per CPU.

"It doesn't have the full EJBs [Enterprise Java Beans] and JMS [Java Message Service] as part of it but it's very appropriate for departmental developers because they tend to be developing less-complicated applications than enterprises do," Miller said.

BEA's dev2dev support program is included in the price tag with the Express product.

Also for departmental use, BEA is launching WebLogic Server, Workgroup Edition, which is a full J2EE server with full API support, but it is limited to use by 20 concurrent developers. Priced at $4,000 per CPU, it includes EJB and JMS technology and can function with BEA's WebLogic Workshop development environment.

The company also is beginning two new distribution channels to make it easier for developers to purchase BEA software for departmental projects. In addition to the BEA Storefront online channel, BEA has formed a relationship with reseller Programmer's Paradise. Both channels will initially offer WebLogic Express with the option of either dev2dev or BEA Production support.

"By going online [for sales], we reduce our cost of sales," Miller said. "We no longer have highly paid sales executives selling [the offerings]."

"We can sell more profitably," he added.

Potential channel conflicts because of BEA's new arrangements are not a major concern in this case, according to Willett.

"There's probably a little bit of competition there, but if somebody just wants to buy the server with e-mail support, [a reseller is] not going to make much money off it anyway," Willett said. Resellers make money off of extended services and building applications on top of the products, he said.

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