BEA, Microsoft Advance SOAs

Microsoft and BEA tap service-oriented architectures to help enterprises do more with less.

Microsoft Corp. and BEA Systems Inc. want to help enterprises do more with less, and both believe its possible through their respective SOA strategies.

While BEA pushes its WebLogic Platform toward enterprises as a service-oriented-architecture deployment platform, Microsoft wants to empower developers with the latest versions of its popular tools that include SOA-building enhancements.

At its eWorld conference in San Francisco last week, BEA laid out its SOA vision with a strategy called Liquid Computing, formerly known as Project Sierra. Liquid Computing builds on BEAs established SOA focus and combines new products and services that will drive greater business integration, productivity and cost savings, said CEO Alfred Chuang.

According to Chuang, BEA is perhaps the only company equipped to deliver SOAs today, although he sees BEA heading for a collision course with Microsoft. "Chances are there will only be two or three companies that can do infrastructure software," Chuang said, referring to BEA, Microsoft and IBM.

Among BEAs other announcements is its WebLogic Server Process Edition, which includes features of WebLogic Integration Server to enable developers to create SOAs more easily. The product combines application development with BPM (business process management).

Chuang also announced the companys ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) plans, called Project QuickSilver, and the mobile element of the Liquid Computing strategy, which is code-named Project Alchemy.

Project Alchemy is a messaging and information framework in the back end that describes information models and their relationships to data and services. Project Alchemy is aimed at occasionally connected devices and systems and is meant to enhance the San Jose, Calif., companys ESB strategy. Project Alchemy is a concept technology designed for SOAs and dealing with occasionally connected mobile users to help them remain productive online and offline.

BEA also announced tools and portals to help developers save time and money building SOAs, including an SOA Technology Center and an SOA Blueprints Initiative. In addition, the company released WebLogic Control Pack, a set of open-source controls for building applications for SOAs.

Jim Gamm, vice president of development at Virgin Mobile USA LLC, of Warren, N.J., said his company moved into SOAs due to customer demand. "We started with a customer experience, then we got the products" to support it, Gamm said. It has paid off, he added—projects that used to take eight months now take about a month.

Meanwhile, at Microsofts Tech Ed conference last week in San Diego, the software company announced Visual Studio 2005 Team System, a suite of life-cycle tools designed to help developers build service-oriented applications, and Web Services Enhancements 2.0, which enables developers to build more secure Web services.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts grand SOA plan.

The Redmond, Wash., company also announced a beta of the Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework, which is a set of tools to enable developers to integrate Microsoft Office applications more tightly with back-office applications from Microsoft, third-party vendors and custom-built applications.

Customers are already making progress with the Visual Studio tools. Reza Wajih, manager of core e-commerce services at Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., said that as HP has been consolidating business units, "at the back end, were doing it all on Visual Studio .Net and Web services."

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