Oracle has declared war on BEA Systems with its Switch and Save migration programme, designed to nudge BEA WebLogic customers towards the new Oracle9i Application Server Java Edition.
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The new migration programme allows existing BEA customers to directly exchange enterprise licences of BEA WebLogic for an equal number of enterprise licences for Oracle9i Application Server Java Edition, free of charge.
But BEA remains unfazed by the Oracle challenge.
"This announcement is a page from an old playbook of Oracle's as they have previously announced similar competitive migration programmes that to our knowledge have never produced any customers taking them up on the offer," said Wong Hwa Cheong, managing director of BEA Systems in Singapore. According to Wong, the reason Oracle is targeting BEA's WebLogic is that WebLogic is the leader in the application server space, and therefore, a natural target and goal.
"We do not consider that Oracle competes at the same level as BEA."
Now Oracle is trying to catch up, said Giga Information Group John Rymer. "This is called buying market share. I don't see that it is going to have a huge impact."
And it is not just BEA that Oracle has set its sights on. "Oracle can work with customers who want to migrate to the Oracle9i Application Server Java Edition from other application servers, including IBM, although we do not have specifically priced programmes for these at this present time," said Thomas Kurian, senior vice-president of development for Oracle9i Application Server.
According to research firm IDC, the worldwide market for application integration software is estimated to reach $8.2bn (£5.2bn) by 2006, a 13.7% compound annual growth rate for the period from 2001 through 2006.
According to Kurian, the reason Oracle decided to focus on BEA is that some 95% of BEA customers are already running the Oracle9i Database. "This represents a huge overlap in our customer bases and a great opportunity for Oracle," said Kurian. "Already, a large number of BEA customers have migrated to the Oracle9i Application Server, and we want to further accelerate and consolidate this momentum."
According to Oracle, the shift from client-server computing to Internet computing is in its early stages and there is still much room for development. "Strategically, we would like to position Oracle9i Application Server attractively in order to seed and increase market share, as opposed to many of our competitors who appear to focus on harvesting revenue from their existing customer base," said Kurian.
Oracle believes that integrated middleware is a significant trend and has made the effort to put this concept together in its Oracle9i Application Server offerings.
"Customers get the benefit of a fully functional, fully J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) 1.3 compliant application server that offers capabilities such as clustering, which competitive products bundle at a price point two to three times higher than the Oracle9i Application Server Java Edition," said Kurian.
However, BEA has shrugged off this challenge from Oracle.
"BEA almost never sees Oracle in the sales cycle, as evidenced by their single digit market share," said Wong. Coincidentally, Oracle made the announcement of its programme the same week BEA Systems announced the general availability of its latest WebLogic 8.1 Application Server and JRockit 8.1.
According to BEA, WebLogic 8.1 features new tools that can enable easier development and deployment, requiring less code and complexity to reduce time and development costs. It also offers standards-based Web services functionality that incorporates secure and reliable message delivery to help customers build composite applications from enterprise-grade Web services. JRockit is a server-side Java Virtual Machine optimised for the Intel platform.