BEA next up to outline Web services strategy

Joining the likes of IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., BEA Systems Inc. next week is expected to map out a Web services strategy that would provide enhanced access to and interaction with business functions over the Internet.

According to sources, BEA is going to announce that portal functionality and support for Java Messaging Service (JMS), a specification that details how applications communicate in an asynchronous environment, will be added to BEA’s flagship J2EE-compliant application platform called WebLogic Server. JMS lets messages be sent between applications across a network, and this version of JMS would let messages pass from one Enterprise Resource Planning application to another.

The Web services blueprint is expected to coincide with BEA’s WebLogic Server upgrade announcement.

WebLogic Server 6.1 will also include support for Universal Description, Discovery and Integration [UDDI] and Web Services Description Language [WSDL], according to BEA.

UDDI is a universal registry of resources, and WSDL standardizes the way services and their providers are described. The application server would act as the backbone for BEA Web services.

“Bundling application servers is no longer about running applications, it’s about monster functionality,” says Peter Urban, an analyst at AMR Research. Companies such as IBM and BEA are furnishing their application servers with features such as caching and business intelligence in one offering.

BEA previously has said its strategic products will consist of WebLogic Collaborate, its collaboration platform that integrates trading partners and e-business processes over the Web, and WebLogic Process Integrator, the workflow engine for Collaborate that controls the sequences of Web services.

The products in BEA’s Web services lineup will support UDDI, WSDL, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and electronic business XML (ebXML). SOAP exchanges XML-based messages from one business application to another over the Web, and ebXML creates a standard XML dialect for businesses to find each other on the Web, form trading partner deals and exchange business documents electronically.

The company also supports Business Transaction Protocol (BTP) in WebLogic Collaborate, which defines how to do transactions, security and multiparty dialog in Web services. For example, Web transactions could be canceled without any changes to corporate systems if the receiving application didn’t get all the XML data.

“[BEA] has a real track record when it comes to standards,” as evidenced by its push for J2EE and BTP, says Peter O’Kelly, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group.

For example, BEA was usually one of the first vendors to roll out J2EE-based products.

Customers can expect Web services to be introduced as their application server platforms are upgraded, says Craig Roth, an analyst at Meta Group.

They should “start playing with the technologies in the lab and thinking about how they would encapsulate the functionality their systems offer as … Web services,” Roth says.