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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-12-09 Print this article Print

: IBMs Swainson: WebSphere and Beyond"> EWEEK: BEA Systems has knocked IBM on not having J2EE 1.3 support, they claim your development tools are complex and their claim is that even with WebSphere 5 youre going to be six months behind them. SWAINSON: I would remind you that we GAd [made generally available] our first J2EE 1.3 release in December of last year. We have in fact had a J2EE product in the market for over a year. And unlike them we actually tell people when we ship things that they can use them. BEA will say its available but we dont recommend using it because we havent tested it. So our philosophy here is very different and it really comes from our heritage of building large scale, high-volume transaction processing systems like IMS and CICS—which are still the things that run almost all the large banks and insurance companies and airlines in the world.
I frankly dont like to talk much about BEA. I think BEA spends all their time talking about IBM and none of their time talking about how their products help customers and I would much rather spend my time talking about how Im working with my customers to allow them to get business benefit rather than how much better I am than BEA or how much worse BEA is than somebody else. I just dont subscribe to that business philosophy. It seems to me counter-productive.
I think BEA has a credible product and I dont know why they dont focus on their products. It amazes me that they want to spend all of their time talking about IBM. EWEEK: But philosophy aside, how do you compete with the various vendors in your space, including BEA, Microsoft, Oracle and Sun? SWAINSON: Let me start at the macro level. There are two schools of thought here in the marketplace. One is based on open standards. And a number of us, including BEA, fall into that category. And then Microsoft sort of lives in the world of proprietary standards. They argue they are open standards, but the reality is the implementations are mostly proprietary. So we compete largely on a standards basis with Microsoft. So if a customer decides they want to go down an open standards path, then you segment the competition into ourselves and BEA and Oracle and sometimes iPlanet [Sun ONE]. If they dont, then you have a fight with Microsoft around .Net implementations. We compete with BEA typically around things like scalability and performance, and application development tools. We see more of BEA than anyone else. In most of the enterprises that we compete, BEA is at least a factor—whether its an installed WebSphere account or an installed WebLogic account, most of these customers in fact have both. Most have chosen to have both. We see Oracle typically in situations where Oracle is the incumbent from a database perspective. Oracles sales pitch appears to be were going to bundle this with our database so you might as well use it. And we almost never see iPlanet (Sun ONE) even on the Sun platform ironically. Most of the time the Sun sales force continues to sell with BEA where the customer has chosen WebSphere they sell with WebSphere. So we see less and less iPlanet in the marketplace overall.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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