BEA Sheds Light on Portal Strategy

The company plans to combine portions of the WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic product families to provide common portal infrastructure services, application services and tools.

BEIJING—At its BEAWorld Beijing conference, BEA Systems Inc. officials discussed the companys portal strategy, addressed the demand for its service-oriented architecture product line and celebrated the growth of its research and development center here.

BEA Wednesday announced that its portal strategy is to enable enterprise customers to use the companys portal technology as a business interaction platform for creating interactive portals, collaborative communities and composite applications, and to do this in distributed environments with no concern over what foundational operating systems, application servers and programming environments they maintain, said Alfred Chuang, BEAs chief executive officer.

Indeed, BEAs recent Plumtree acquisition will play into this strategy, as will the companys WebLogic Portal. The technology acquired from Plumtree is now known as AquaLogic Interaction (formerly the Plumtree Corporate Portal), and both the Plumtree-based portal product and the WebLogic Portal will spawn products, the company said.

In fact, over the next two years, BEA plans to combine portions of the WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic product families to provide common portal infrastructure services, application services and tools that can be used with future versions of both WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic Interaction, the company said.

Citing the importance of this new direction toward a unified portal strategy, Chuang told eWEEK that of the five acquisitions BEA made over the last two to three months, the Plumtree acquisition is perhaps the most strategic. In fact, that is why Chuang placed his right hand, former BEA chief technology officer and current executive vice president, Mark Carges, in charge of the AquaLogic Interaction business. "Mark has been with me for a long time," Chuang said. "He was integral in the WebLogic strategy, he has been a strong CTO and now I am calling on him to help us deliver on this strategy."

BEA said its unified portal strategy will unfold in three stages. The first will be a focus on increasing the interoperation between WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic Interaction for sharing portlets and other page elements.

By the first half of 2006, BEA will release a unified Java Specification Request (JSR-168) implementation and a unified WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portlets) implementation—both of which are specifications that BEA helped create. And both portal products will use the unified WSRP implementation to produce WSRP portlets that can be consumed by any WSRP-compliant portal, the company said.

And while both of BEAs portal products already support these standards, the phase one focus will be to enable users of both WebLogic Portal and AquaLogic Interaction to more easily share assets between portals, the company said.

Phase two, which is expected to be complete some time in the second half of 2006, will include componentizing various portal functions into a set of services common to both products. Such services could include portal infrastructure services; activity services like collaboration, search, distributed publishing and usage analytics; higher-level portal features for creating communities, group pages, content aggregation and knowledge management; and developer and business user tools, BEA officials said. The company plans to release a series of new products that independently package these common services, BEA said.

Meanwhile, phase three, to be released in 2007, will unify the common portal infrastructure components and services into a single product environment for managing user experiences over the Web, including portals and composite applications, the company said. And the offering will run across heterogeneous systems, supporting platforms such as Unix, Linux, .Net, various application servers, and open source software such as Tomcat.

"The unified portal strategy is designed to help BEA customers understand how they can use the AquaLogic User Interaction and WebLogic Portal products today and in the future," said Wai Wong, executive vice president of BEA, in a statement.

Meanwhile, BEA announced some new projects the company plans to turn into products.

The first is known as Project "Runner." Runner is a rapid application services and composition engine that exposes the portal infrastructure and activity services to non-portal applications, the company said. Runner will support the creation of new composite applications and will complement existing portal-based applications, BEA said.

Project "Holland" is an enterprise application Wiki that enables business users and other non-developers to collaborate on the creation of interactive workspaces, group pages and portal communities, the company said.

And finally, there is Project "Graffiti," a collaborative information discovery and knowledge management system that is used to classify and discover content stored in any corporate content repository, BEA officials said. These products are slated to be available in the second half of next year.

Meanwhile, speaking of AquaLogic, Chuang said just six months after the company announced its AquaLogic family of infrastructure products for supporting SOA (service-oriented architecture), customers and partners have reacted more rapidly than anticipated and sales have exceeded projections.

/zimages/2/28571.gifBEA continues its acquisition quest. Click here to read more.

More than 100 customers in various vertical industries have deployed the BEA AquaLogic platform, Chuang said. Indeed, many customers are coming to BEA for the first time, just to purchase AquaLogic, he said in an interview.

Chuang said BEAs other announcements also will help promote SOA momentum, including the new AquaLogic User Interaction product line and new versions of its AquaLogic Enterprise Security and AquaLogic Service Bus. And BEA also announced an SOA certification program for IT architects.

Meanwhile, BEA celebrated its second year at its BEA China R&D Center.

"As the China R&D Center expands, BEA can move more tasks to China," said Frank Xiong, vice president and general manager of the China R&D Center for BEA, in a statement. "And while product innovation remains our top priority, the facility continues to explore innovative projects and programs outside of our existing product lines that can help benefit China, our partners and our customers."

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