BEA sets out SOA strategy

SAN FRANCISCO – BEA Systems has announced a turn – a 360-degree turn – in its service-oriented architecture strategy at BEAWorld.

The company announced plans for its SOA 360 platform, using the newly announced BEA microService Architecture (mSA). The platform will span its Tuxedo, WebLogic and AquaLogic product lines and be supported by the forthcoming SOA collaborative tooling environment, WorkSpace 360.

Applications in the future will look nothing like in the past, said Alfred Chuang, founder, chairman and CEO of BEA Systems Inc., during a keynote speech on Tuesday to 2,000 conference attendees. The platform, which will bring all of BEA’s technology under one umbrella, is meant to separate applications from business processes.

Companies have been making a mess out of their environments, said Chuang, and 360 is designed to solve the problem of applications embedded into business processes.

But what exactly is a unified platform? Almost every vendor doing SOA claims to have one. 360 is not a rewrite, nor is it an attempt to “fuse” everything together, said Marge Breya, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer of BEA Systems during a press conference. Instead, it’s using SOA-like principles to bring everything together.

“I don’t think we’re reinventing the wheel,” said Chuang. “The industry is looking for a new way to approach SOA.”

mSA is the architecture behind the 360 platform. BEA says that unlike other “fused” proprietary middleware architectures, the 360 platform will be based on native SOA standards, making it more open and embeddable for third-party development.

But a true SOA platform also has to have common tooling, which will come in the form of WorkSpace 360, said Chuang. This is intended as a way to bring business analysts, architects, developers and IT professionals into a shared workspace for collaboration.

The WorkSpace 360 product line is slated to enter the market throughout 2007 and will be based around BEA’s recent acquisition of Flashline (and its metadata repository).

SOA is one of several factors fuelling the next transformation of IT, said Prasad Rampalli, vice-president of end-user platform integration with Intel Corp. Rampalli has built out more than 1,000 services over SOA for Intel and is now taking SOA across the corporation. Other factors include the confluence of wireless and mobility, virtualization and software as a service. “I think you have a perfect storm,” he said.

SOA is transforming IT, he said, in that we’re seeing a migration toward SOA as a business platform. “It’s a fundamental shift in the notion of infrastructure itself being a participant, being a resource,” he said.

Another issue is the emergence of outsized data centres. Google, for example, has a data centre in central Washington as big as two football fields with twin cooling towers four stories high. “It’s mind-boggling this kind of economics,” said Rampalli. As a result, we’re seeing more data consolidation projects. “We’ve got to attack the energy efficiency issue,” he said.

Ultimately, the role of the CIO is changing, he said, and will eventually be in flux, compared to the role of the service provider, which will become increasingly important.

Chuang believes the concept of packaged applications is “totally flawed,” since they target everything from automotive to pharmaceutical. “I believe a new model is emerging,” he said, and this model will allow for ISVs to sell specific functionality. So where does BEA fit into all of this? “We make sure the openness is there,” said Chuang.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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