BEA Systems announced its acquisition of Flashline this week to beef up its SOA portfolio. The acquisition will combine BEA’s AquaLogic Enterprise Repository with Flashline’s metadata repository, which will provide enterprises with the ability to manage and govern their enterprise assets across the SOA lifecycle.
As the demand for service-oriented architecture picks up, SOA vendors are looking to expand their product portfolios to provide more of a “lifecycle” approach to SOA. And this trend will “absolutely” result in more industry acquisitions, according to Jeff Pendleton, executive director of the upcoming SOA Alliance, which will officially launch in the next few weeks.
For example, IBM has already spent more than $3 billion in the past month on acquisitions. “I can’t speculate on what IBM’s doing, but I think they’re beefing up their software business unit as a whole, as is HP and others,” he said. BEA’s acquisition is really part of a strategy to become a rich SOA platform, he added, but it’s hard to know whether IBM’s acquisition of FileNet has to do with SOA.
But we can expect to see more acquisitions of this kind because of the nature of SOA. “Whether you buy or partner, it’s pretty clear you’ve got to have a metadata repository and a way to keep track of these tens of thousands of services,” said Pendleton.
Last May BEA publicly stated that a successful enterprise SOA requires both a registry and a repository. “The addition of Flashline is to fill that repository requirement,” said Paul Patrick, BEA’s chief architect for AquaLogic, in a tele-conference yesterday. “To deal with the overall problem of metadata in an enterprise takes a lot more than just a place to store XML files.” The acquisition of Flashline will help to create a complete lifecycle view of the metadata, he said, as well as bring in a governance capability.
Flashline’s metadata repository provides enterprise-wide visibility into an organization’s software assets to help reduce IT costs and improve business agility. The metadata repository is considered a critical component of SOA because it provides a shared location to manage metadata, govern the asset lifecycle and measure results.
“We enable companies to align their assets, their services, with overall enterprise architecture and with business priorities,” said Charles Stack, president and CEO of Flashline. “The ability to reduce the amount of duplication in IT has significant cost savings that go right to the bottom line.”
ROI is built into the product, he said, so customers can push a button to see how much time and money their particular implementation has saved through reuse and reduced duplication. “When we get the inevitable backlash against the investment in SOA, being able to have a demonstrable ROI is going to be extremely important,” he said.
But SOA is not an island, he added. “You can’t really do SOA without including virtually all the pieces of your IT infrastructure because those services aren’t just floating out there not attached to anything.”
As SOA becomes mainstream and each vendor tries to position themselves from their point of strength, we’ll see acquisitions and partnerships to really create a full SOA capability, said Pendleton. “It’s just that if you think about where Oracle comes from or SAP, they come from different frames of reference but they’re all probably headed in the same direction.”
Flashline’s employees, including Stack, will remain in Cleveland and join the BEA AquaLogic business group.