BEA, IBM Push J2EE Specs

BEA and IBM are teaming up on three specs for J2EE application servers.

BEA Systems Inc. and IBM are developing three new specifications that will improve portability across the companies competing application servers as well as other Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition application servers that comply with the specifications.

BEA, of San Jose, Calif., and IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., plan to publish the specifications on a royalty-free basis and will submit them to the Java Community Process for approval as standards. The specifications include SDO (Service Data Objects), which delivers a programming model for data and varied data sources. SDO supports the use of standard tools and frameworks.

Another specification is Work Manager for Application Servers, which provides support for concurrently executing work items. The third, Timer for Application Servers, enables the setting of timers in application server activities.

"The SDO specification is designed to unify the programming model in order to make application code more portable across a wide range of enterprise data," said John Kiger, director of product management at BEA. "It takes into account that CIOs and IT directors manage and maintain heterogeneous environments and dont want to be tied to, or dependent upon, one single technology vendor. ... Heterogeneity exists in the enterprise and is not going away."

As an example of this, Rick Jackson, vice president of product development at BEA, said that in the second quarter of fiscal 2004, the percentage of BEAs WebLogic application server sales on Sun Microsystems Inc. hardware shrank from 71 percent the year before to 40 percent. WebLogic sales on servers from Hewlett-Packard Co., which pursues a less proprietary strategy than Sun, grew from 5 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2003 to 36 percent in the second quarter of fiscal 2004.

"Thats a pretty dramatic swing," Jackson said. He credits BEAs WebLogic Workshop tools for driving greater adoption of the WebLogic platform, while BEA CEO Alfred Chuang said that although IBM continues to be BEAs biggest competitor and some of the pure-play integration vendors compete for some deals, "replacing them is easy when we do a demonstration of Workshop."

Chuang said a Workshop demonstration takes about 25 minutes and illustrates BEAs integration strategy and how its products work together. The tool appeals to a variety of developers: enterprise, portal, corporate and others, he said. "We want to reach everybody," he said. "Workshop is a very critical tool to bridge that gap."