eWEEK: Do you think the J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] should come out of Sun and go to a standards body? Chuang: Historically, J2EE and the rest of the Java Community process had success because Sun funded money infinitely into the program without taking a dominant role in dictating what goes in and what goes out. Thats the best of both worlds. So its not a consortium where you would vote.Now its a difficult thing to maintain at that level forever. I dont believe that its time yet that this is ready to go to a public consortium and go through this excruciating pain. I clearly think that up to now at least it definitely is still working very well. BEA has been able to continue to invent ahead of the spec yet to not get out of the spec itself. And as long as that is the case, that means innovation. eWEEK: Lets talk about competition overall, not just IBM. How do you compete with .Net? Chuang: Well, theres no competition now because the .Net server doesnt exist. Ive been through this several times with Microsoft. Back in 1996 there was a technology called Microsoft Transaction Server. We were doing Tuxedo, just barely moving into our CORBA-based third-generation object-oriented transaction, and we sat around and said, "Oh my God. Microsoft is coming out with MTS. How are we going to survive?" And people asked me the same question. And then MTS disappeared. Im not sure .Net will be the same, but the same symptoms are clearly happening. There was a lot of momentum for a while and then a bunch of other things distracted it, and it seems to have diluted the whole thing. And I would not be surprised if the whole .Net methodology would be dropped altogether and done as something else. But I think you are getting to the right point, though. Because the way I look at it I think that Microsoft will ultimately be BEAs competition. Because here is the challenge: Were out there aggressively trying to get the enterprise to standardize so we can see proliferation of applications so we can continue to grow. We are doing more stuff online today than we ever have. If that continues that means the supply of applications real time into the hands of the people using the Internet is absolutely the most critical thing. We are edging out into the world Microsoft is in. We will cross into their world, and over time Microsoft will be BEAs biggest competitor even though now theres no direct competitive product. But our channel model, their channel model; our product, their product; our ecosystem, their ecosystem; all have different tastes to them and it depends on the next generation of the world what its all going to look like. I think it will be very exciting. eWEEK: You said you patterned parts of your business after their success. Chuang: Right, we are. Because what they got right is that volume is critical. Not low price, its volume. Because the only way that the enterprise is going to change is there has to be standardization, there has to be high-volume movement that shows a new standard being adopted. Thats when well see massive amounts of applications not only that well be able to put out but also that interoperate with existing applications. eWEEK: Whats next for BEA? When do you see the limit of this application server architecture and having to move beyond it? Chuang: I would contend that it will be the center of innovation for a long time to come because the world is looking for the "Windows" for the enterprise. But its a much more sophisticated Windows because we do have a variety of different heterogeneous systems running. We have a variety of different databases. We are waiting for a much lower-cost, higher-yield computing model to really emerge for the enterprise. I think there are many things the world is still heading to. We dont call it the app server anymore, we call it the platform. Because its the app server, its the JVM, its the integration technology, its many things composed into one. eWEEK: How about the other competitors? Oracle, Sun ONE? Chuang: Well, Sun ONE we dont see. Sun doing software has always been challenging for them. The problem with the world that were in is if youre really not heterogeneous, customers dont want to buy. eWEEK: How big is Linux to you? How important? Chuang: Linux is the fastest growing platform for us. And its gone from nowhere to about 10 percent. But the thing I dont know is whether Linux is growing the fastest or Intel-based platforms are growing the fastest. Our Intel-based business is rising close to 20 percent from absolutely nowhere. So were seeing huge growthparticularly in the financial services industry. But its hard to tell whether the growth is from Intel or because of Linux. We have some very good relationships with several of the Linux vendors. Its a simple, easy-to-use operating system. Its very lightweight, though it still needs some hardening. eWEEK: Do you have a mobile computing strategy? Chuang: Yes, we actually have a mobile product coming out. Most of the people that approach the mobile world are trying to force the desktop computing model onto mobile devices. We happen to think that is not a very practical approach because if you look at mobile devices they work against that. You need to save bandwidth. Its a form factor issue. So our invention is around a new browser technology, a connection technology that allows a minimum of information to be running on the device and maximum amount of information to be running on the server and is still aware in a disconnected mode. The market is now at the game level; its not at the commerce level yet. I think the next big driver in the marketplace is mobile moving to become a commercially used enterprise device.
I used to be on the board of the Object Management Group [OMG], and its an excruciatingly painful process because you have all these hardware companies doing software they want to be advantageous to their hardware. And they put their thing up for voting, and it takes forever. So those types of things dont help the rate of innovation. I think Suns role in Java has historically worked.