BEA pours Liquid Data

BEA Systems Inc. on Monday will unveil Liquid Data for WebLogic, a product that provides real-time access to data aggregated from multiple sources.

Functioning with the company’s WebLogic Server 7.0 application server, the product fits in with BEA’s intentions to become a leader in enterprise integration, according to company officials.

“Liquid Data for WebLogic is a product for real-time data access and data aggregation,” said Pavey Purewal, senior manager for integration product marketing at BEA, in San Jose, Calif. “It’s really providing information visibility into front-end applications and for taking data from multiple, disparate data sources and combining them.”

Liquid Data can be used for functions such as customer service and portal applications, Purewal said.

BEA, she said, aims to solve issues of integration, mainly cost and complexity and unifying organizational “silos” of information. “We’ve got a common platform that unifies the task of application development and integration,” Purewal said.

Inner workings of Liquid Data include using XML as its language for describing relationships between data, and use of XQuery as a query language, said Ajey Patel, senior director of product management in the new technologies division at BEA. To assist with accessing information from systems such as mainframes, BEA offers adapters for system connectivity.

Liquid Data utilizes WebLogic Server’s security, scaling, clustering, and database connection pooling features.

“Our value proposition to IT is to provide a systematic way of accessing enterprise data where data can be pulled in real-time from all the operational systems,” Patel said.

Liquid Data provides an abstraction layer on top of data sources, according to BEA.

Analyst Michele Rosen, of Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said Liquid Data “certainly fills a gap in BEA’s strategy in that they didn’t really have anything previously to address data integration.”

Liquid Data will compete against projects emerging from IBM’s Xperanto technology, Rosen said.

“It definitely keeps [BEA] competing successfully with IBM from a checklist perspective,” she said.

However, IBM could be at an advantage because it has its own DB2 database technology to leverage for integration products while BEA has no database, Rosen said.

But Patel contended customers would rather buy integration software from a neutral company that is not a database vendor.

Initially, Liquid Data can connect to database applications, Web services and XML files and access structured and unstructured data. Within the next six months, BEA expects to expand the product to include access to unstructured content from content management systems from vendors such as Documentum and Interwoven.

A typical beta project with Liquid Data has taken about two to three weeks for integrating three to five data sources.

Available Monday, the product costs US$25,000 per CPU, with a typical deployment involving two to four CPU. Liquid Data will work on WebLogic-supportive operating platforms, starting with Sun Microsystems Solaris and Microsoft Windows NT initially and expanding to Hewlett-Packard HP-UX, IBM AIX and Linux in mid-December.

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