BEA Gets on Service Bus

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-04-05

BEA Gets on Service Bus

WASHINGTON—Despite predictions that IBM and Microsoft Corp. will dominate the emerging ESB space, BEA Systems Inc. is quietly working on delivering enterprise service bus capabilities for Web services in a product slated for release early next year.

During an interview at the BEA Federal Technology Symposium here last week, Alfred Chuang, chairman and CEO of BEA, in San Jose, Calif., said the company has something in store for its competitors in this arena. The move will offer enterprises looking to build SOAs (service-oriented architectures) using Web services another choice in an expanding field of providers.

Read why IBMs Bob Sutor thinks SOA is so necessary.

"We have a project going inside the company," Chuang said. "We do have a bus today. But there are several challenges. One is in a one-to-many broadcasting model; most of the transactional buses are not designed for that. Right now, we have much more of a many-to-many model. So we are in the process of building a bus specifically to handle short-span messages."

An ESB, akin to middleware for Web services and SOAs, is a distributed layer on top of an underlying messaging infrastructure. Chuang said such new architectures are needed to keep up with the changing nature of Web transactions.

"What happened is that the world in information systems is colliding with multimedia," Chuang said. "All of a sudden, you have clips, you have pictures, you have things that people want to send. So I think that has caused a different level of what people are expecting a transaction is and what gets lumped into it. And thats caused us to rethink whats inside the bus."

Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., cites in a report that WebMethods Inc., Iona Technologies Inc., Systinet Corp. and Sonic Software Corp. currently offer ESB technology but said that IBM and Microsoft will eventually dominate the space.

Next page: Playing catch-up to IBM, Microsoft.

Page Two

BEA hopes to catch up with IBM, which recently disclosed information regarding its plans for ESB support, and Microsoft, with its upcoming Indigo platform. Some see Indigo as merely a framework for creating ESB, but either way, the earliest versions of Indigo will not be available until next year, with the final version going into "Longhorn" in 2006 or beyond.

"An ESB is important because people want a good way to implement a service-oriented architecture using Web services," said Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at Iona, in Waltham, Mass. Ionas Artix product is considered an ESB. "The ESB provides additional enterprise qualities of service to Web services interfaces," he said.

IBM helps customers build ESBs today through its MQ technology and WebSphere. Its offering in this space, however, will not be a single product. "Its not a new product; its going to be capabilities in our products," said Scott Cosby, director of WebSphere business integration product management, in Somers, N.Y. "We dont expect to have an ESB product that does anything you want. Our goal is to augment the products we currently have. Its not a one-size-fits-all, buy-it-off-the-shelf ESB."

Cosby said IBM will start incrementally "adding more and more support [for ESBs] in the next eight to 10 months."

Chuang said BEA will be pushing new technology in several areas.

"We have an endless appetite for doing new things," Chuang said. The next major version of WebLogic is perhaps a year off.

"Were doing mobility," Chuang said. "We have a huge management project going on. The bus architecture addition will be a new thing for us. Therell be a bunch of new things inside integration. Were transforming integration even further. And were merging more the process of development and integration. So theres a lot of stuff cooking."

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