BEA’s Plans writes about BEA’s plans after a disappointing quarter:

BEA, which last week announced lower-than-expected sales, is hoping to revive customer interest with several new products. The company plans to fill in the picture on Project Sierra, a set of educational programs and technical resources for designing a modern computing system called a services-oriented architecture. Also expected are details about an initiative to broaden the use of its WebLogic Workshop Java development tool, in part by submitting some of the code to open-source projects, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

And, BEA said, it will discuss products under development, including better management tools; a standards-based messaging product called an enterprise service bus; and the next version of its flagship WebLogic product line.

Analysts generally agree that BEA’s technical vision has long been on target. But the company is finding that even cutting-edge technology does not guarantee growth in the highly competitive market for infrastructure software. Larger and better-heeled competitors, such as IBM and Microsoft, have broader product lines, which gives them more inroads to large corporate accounts, analysts said.

BEA’s WebLogic Platform suite includes an application server–the software needed to run applications–as well as a portal, integration software and a Java development tool. The company has sought to reduce its dependency on the WebLogic application server, which fueled its rapid growth in the late 1990s, by selling the WebLogic Platform suite of products.

When BEA launched WebLogic Platform 8.1 last summer, the company said its Workshop development tool would make Java programming easier and simplify the process of integrating multiple business applications–long a pain point with corporate customers.

At its eWorld customer conference, BEA intends to describe how it will expand its product line and to articulate its overall technology vision. According to descriptions of conference sessions, BEA will discuss tools built around Web services protocols to ease the management of WebLogic applications. The company will also detail “Diablo,” the code name for the next version of the WebLogic application server, which is being designed to improve its clustering capabilities. Another product in the works is an enterprise service bus (ESB), code named QuickSilver, which is not expected to be completed until next year, according to a software executive who works at a BEA partner company.

Another report discusses Beehive:

The goal of the initiative is to get more developers to use Java tools compatible with BEA server software. BEA also hopes to spur the creation of “controls,” or prewritten Java components, based on BEA’s component model.

The Beehive code, which will be updated by BEA engineers, will be available this summer through a BSD-style open-source license. BEA has not yet decided which organization will host the open-source project.

BEA’s WebLogic Workshop is a visual development tool designed to simplify Java programming and make it easier to integrate business applications. The tool has received praise from customers and industry analysts for its ability to mimic the visual programming style popularized by Microsoft’s Visual Basic.

Although WebLogic Workshop has been a successful product for BEA, the company is facing growing competition for developer loyalty from other Java tools efforts, including Eclipse, an open-source project founded by IBM. In the past year, usage of Eclipse has shot up dramatically, with usage in North America rising 90 percent, according to Evans Data.

The software being released to the open-source community is what BEA calls an “application framework,” or a set of utilities for deploying Java applications. For example, the Beehive software includes tools for managing a series of events during a multistep Web services application or designing the sequence of Web page views in a portal application. BEA executives said the company will not make any other “run time” software, such as its WebLogic application or portal software available to open-source developers.

Right now, the Beehive application framework only works with BEA’s WebLogic Workshop development environment. That means that when a Java programmer writes an application with BEA’s Workshop, the application can only run on BEA’s Java server software. By making Beehive software open source, programmers will be able to use any Java development tool and potentially deploy it on other Java server software packages, BEA executives said.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.