BEA Defends Its Turf

BEA came out swinging on Friday after a week of taking hits from competitors claiming their technology is better for BEA customers than BEA's own.

BEA Systems Inc. came out swinging on Friday after a week of taking hits from competitors claiming their technology is better for BEA customers than BEAs own.

BEA defended its position in the Java application server market, saying the company has come under fire because the competition knows it has to come after the sector leader.

Addressing aggressive moves earlier in the week by BEA competitors, Erik Frieberg, senior product director at the San Jose, Calif., company, said: "The whole time Ive been at BEA weve been the leader and the competition has had some kind of exchange program or upgrade program or replacement program to try to come and unseat us, but it hasnt happened."

Frieberg said it is only natural that competitors go after the market leader. His comments come during a week when Oracle Corp. announced a new version of its Java application server and a new "Switch and Save" campaign, where the company said it will replace existing BEA application server implementations with Oracle application server technology at no cost. Meanwhile, IBM Corp on Wednesday announced that its WebSphere Studio tools have been optimized to work with the BEA WebLogic Application Server environment.

Frieberg said the moves by BEA competitors only go to show that BEA is the application platform environment to catch. "Most of the vendors that exit the market try to migrate their customers to WebLogic. This demonstrates that we have the best product on the market," he said, speaking primarily of Hewlett-Packard Co., which got out of the application server space and established close ties to BEA. HPs CEO, Carly Fiorina, gave a keynote address at BEAs eWorld developer conference last month.

Bob Sutor, IBMs director of WebSphere infrastructure software, said IBM is extending the capabilities of IBM WebSphere Studio to now allow BEA WebLogic developers to "use WebSphere Studio to develop, test and deploy out to WebLogic. And we think this is going to be very attractive to developers. The tools BEA has are proprietary to BEA and are not open, nor do they support Eclipse." Eclipse is the open-source, Java-based application development platform sponsored by IBM.

Sutor said the new tools capability is a good option "for enterprises that have mixed IBM WebSphere and BEA WebLogic application server environments." And for companies that have WebLogic and are thinking of migrating to WebLogic this is a good first step, Sutor said of the new tools capabilities.

IBMs recent acquisition of Rational Software Corp. and new capabilities such as those described in this announcement "show that IBM is committed to being a serious tools vendor," Sutor said.

Borland Software Corp., Scotts Valley, Calif., also sells tools that can be used with the BEA platform. And Borlands tools also support Eclipse. However, "Borland says they are the only tools vendor that supports multiple application servers, and thats not true anymore," Sutor said.

Meanwhile, although company officials have not made a strategic initiative to go after BEA, Atlanta-based JBoss LLC says it sees BEA as vulnerable.

Marc Fleury, president of JBoss, said BEA and other leading application server vendors are adding features like integration and portals to their platform because "JBoss has destroyed their revenue stream" on the application server itself. The open-source JBoss solution has been catching on, he said.

"BEA is a soft target for us," he said, noting that IBM with WebSphere is a more difficult win because of its broad ties with IT departments through hardware relationships.

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