BEA : Project Beehive has BEA pondering Eclipse, NetBeans

BEA Systems Inc.’s decision to offer its WebLogic Workshop run-time framework under an open source format, through its Project Beehive effort, may prompt the company to reconsider its current stance of not participating in either the NetBeans or Eclipse open source tools programs, said BEA’s Cornelius Willis, vice-president of developer marketing.

If joining these initiatives could result in production of more Beehive Controls, then BEA would consider participating, Willis said during an interview at the BEA eWorld 2004 conference in San Francisco last week. The Controls are components that can be plugged into the run-time environment,

“Beehive changes a lot of things about our business,” Willis said. However, he acknowledged that customers have not been asking BEA to join either the IBM-spawned Eclipse effort or the Sun Microsystems Inc.-led NetBeans effort.

Project Beehive was accepted as an open source project in the Apache community, BEA recently announced.

Also at the conference, a company official said BEA Systems’ Project QuickSilver, described as a combination enterprise service bus (ESB) and Web services management tool, affords an opportunity to expand the company’s reach beyond the J2EE marketplace.

Chet Kapoor, vice president and general manager of the BEA WebLogic Integration Group, stressed the multi-purpose capabilities of QuickSilver. The technology is intended to provide routing and management of messages as well as message transaction operations and Web services management in heterogeneous environments. Dynamic changing of application processes also is to be part of QuickSilver.

QuickSilver presents “an opportunity for us to go beyond the J2EE marketplace,” Kapoor said. “That’s what QuickSilver is,” he added.

Reaching out to non-J2EE environments will be necessary for the company to grow its revenues, said analyst John Rymer, vice-president of research at Forrester Research. “They’ve been a J2EE company and they’re trying to broaden past that. They have to,” Rymer said. “They’re stuck at US$1 billion in revenue,” he added.

BEA will need to grow license revenues to be able to invest in products, Rymer said. BEA recently reported a two per cent drop in quarterly license revenues, which totaled US$120.2 million, from the same time period last year. Total revenues were up 11 per cent, however, to US$262.6 million.

Kapoor concurred about the company’s revenue situation. “We’re at the billion-dollar mark and it’s been a tough two or three years for everybody. Not just for us but for everybody. We’ve done pretty well,” however, Kapoor said.

He would not comment on when QuickSilver would ship as a product, but acknowledged it may be packaged in a multiple-product format, such as releasing enterprise and professional-level editions. BEA’s Eric Stahl, director of product marketing, said QuickSilver technologies would be released in the upcoming WebLogic Platform 9 and 10 releases. BEA later in the year will provide details on version 9.0’s release, Stahl said.

Also at eWorld, Kapoor dismissed the notion that the JBoss open source application server for Java presented a competitive challenge to BEA’s own WebLogic Server application server. He also said he did not think Java application servers are becoming commoditized.

“Customers are not using JBoss in mission-critical environments,” Kapoor said. They want maintenance and quality assurance available from a commercial application server vendor, he said.

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