Wong: BEA Still Has Vision

By eweek  |  Posted 2004-09-17

Wong: BEA Still Has Vision

BEA Systems Inc.s new executive vice president of products, Wai Wong, claims BEA is not down and certainly not out despite losing a host of executive and technical talent. In an interview with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft, Wong explained that his goal is to help the San Jose, Calif.-based company stay the course set by its bygone visionaries as well as to help set the companys compass toward greater innovation. Wong comes to BEA from Computer Associates International Inc., where he led that companys Unicenter business unit.

Click here to read more about Wongs role at BEA.

I want to kind of start from the beginning and get your sense of BEAs image given all the recent defections.

Well, I can only speak personally. But if you look at the organization, there are several very talented people here. And while all that was happening I feel that the fundamentals havent changed. And the folks that left they had a great vision and great influence inside BEA, but a lot of things that theyve done are to the point where theyre going to be productized and brought out in upcoming releases of the technology. So given that the fundamentals havent changed, I personally feel that things are still going strong.

Some people say that the vision of BEA is gone and now youre into the phase of just turning out the products that implement that vision.

I think if you look at Mark Carges, who is the [chief technology officer], Mark is one of the creators of Tuxedo. He was part of the portal group, which is a leading product for BEA right now. So I dont think that BEA lacks vision so much. I dont subscribe to that belief. I think that Mark and I will be a great team in making sure that we enable innovation and continue to execute. And dont forget, Alfred [Chuang, CEO of BEA] as the founder is a visionary, and hes still very much the leader here.

What about the progress on some of the projects that were recently announced like Alchemy and the Liquid Computing strategy?

That is still moving forward. Alchemy, actually, you look at what Adam [Bosworth, who went to Google Inc. in late July,] did with Alchemy. He kind of reached out in a research way into an occasionally connected paradigm, and I believe that that paradigm will come true. At the moment the work that hes done is being productized and being taken over by a product group as a basic tenet of the infrastructure.

So Im going through discovery on a lot of things. Ive been here eight days, five business days, but as far as I can tell everything is moving along. And the things I can add value to are some of the manageability initiatives about the platform and about security, thats absolutely my domain.

What kind of challenge do you see for yourself here in your new role?

I think the No. 1 challenge I have is continuing to encourage innovation, to take execution to the next level and optimize some of the processes and make sure our deliverables have the best quality possible and are timely to the marketplace. I think thats a continuing challenge. So my challenge is to take it up a notch.

Next Page: A message to BEAs customers.

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What kind of message do you have for BEAs investors, existing customers and prospective new customers?

I go back to the fundamental strength of BEA. The product organization is delivering products that make up a best-of-breed integrated platform. If you look out across the board, we have the leading deployments, we have the best integrated product set. That is the core strength of BEA, and that is not easy to shake. One of the things I told the product organization is I focus on two things: making sure our customers get value and are happy and … delivering value to our shareholders.

Why do you think people would feel comfortable with you as an executive in this role, coming from Computer Associates International, which does not necessarily have products in this space?

I would not put words in anybodys mouth, but I met with a lot of product teams already, and I think that what they see in what I espouse is helping them understand where I come from. There are a lot of people here with lots of domain expertise and a lot of innovation. What I focus on getting done here is very complementary to my role at CA. When I was at CA and managing a large organization, from the time I took over as the Unicenter business executive, if you look at the growth of the Unicenter solution set—which is public and on CAs Web site—you can see my track record.

What can you say about any new direction or any upgrading you might be considering?

Its a little premature. Im going through the discovery process. I gave myself a month. So I am just getting started. Its too early to say.

But basically nothing is expected to change in terms of the platform and the focus on Workshop and the controls and that emphasis the company was making?

Im a 100 percent believer that a well-integrated platform with ease of use and ease of deployment is the way to go.

You may not even agree that theres been any change, but from many perspectives there has. How do you regain credibility in the market? Some people joke about whether there is still a company called BEA.

Well, you know how PR and marketing works. I dont agree. Im here, so obviously I dont agree. You should take a look at the study put out last week by The Middleware Co. that shows BEA came out No. 1 in application server deployment and market share. These are the things that show that performance is what makes things tick. Were still the market leader in many ways—in all ways that matter—and I again go back to the strengths of the company and its integrated platform.

Will you be beefing up your team?

We are adding resources as needed, absolutely. Discovery will tell me how much or how far.

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