BEA boosts WebLogic to enable Web services

The latest release of BEA Systems Inc.’s Java application server, WebLogic, is designed to help enterprise developers working in Java embrace so-called Web services.

WebLogic Server 7.0 solidifies the product’s security features, supports the latest Java APIs, and makes it easier to create and deploy Java components. But BEA also has added a set of utilities that let customers more easily access these components, middleware and legacy data, using standards such as XML, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration directories. These standards are the basis of Web services.

The utilities generate an array of Web services interfaces, creating code that lets Web-based requests interact with data in XML documents. The utilities can create the Web Services Description Language (WSDL) file that describes a Web service. They also can handle what’s called the marshalling and unmarshalling needed to send a service request via SOAP to back-end Java components.

“Enterprise users need to have an easy way to create Web services, and then combine and deploy them,” says Tyler McDaniel, an analyst with the Hurwitz Group Inc. “BEA is targeted on enabling this.”

Web services are being touted as a simplified way of making data and applications available to business partners, customers and employees with XML documents and emerging Web standards such as WSDL and SOAP. The application server vendors see Web services as the next battleground.

In WebLogic 7.0, due midyear, BEA has included the latest Java APIs, part of the Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.3 specification.

A new visual development tool, called WebLogic, Builder has been added to ease the assembly and deployment of J2EE applications on the server. Another utility generates Enterprise JavaBean interfaces, relieving developers of writing this code.

The release also includes a WebLogic-based security service with interfaces to third-party security applications that free developers from writing security code in each application or for each component.

The company also has begun creating a unified administration layer that will span not only WebLogic but also companion products, such as WebLogic Portal and WebLogic Integration. Configuration wizards will guide administrators through deployment options.

Finding many customers who want a unified platform might be wishful thinking on BEA’s part. Several developers say their companies use only one BEA product at the moment, most often its flagship application server.

However, E2e Solutions in Irvine, Calif., uses the application server and portal products, and plans eventually to use BEA’s Workshop development framework. Being able to manage and update these elements as if they were one would be a big help, says Hemant Warudkar, CEO at E2e.

IDG News Services contributed to this story.