Hot skills: Base of large J2EE and Linux users creates market for Weblogic skills

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Hot skills: Base of large J2EE and Linux users creates market for Weblogic skills

Nick Langley
What is it?

Weblogic is a family of Java-based application servers from BEA Systems. Weblogic Server is the core product that supports the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standards. Weblogic Enterprise adds Corba support and distributed processing. Weblogic Express adds servlet support and connectivity with JDBC, a programming interface that lets Java applications access a database via the SQL language.

BEA claims more large-scale business-critical applications are deployed on its Weblogic Server than any other application server. Second to IBM in the middleware market by a margin of 29%, BEA is nevertheless said by many, including Gartner analysts, to have better technology in its portfolio. Gartner rates BEA a "leader" in application servers, integration and portals - a distinction shared only by IBM. BEA also owns the Tuxedo middleware suite.

This year BEA made its Weblogic Workshop application framework available in open source form through its dev2dev developer site, and it has linked up with open source suppliers through Project Beehive.

Where did it originate?

BEA Systems was founded in 1995. Weblogic is now in its eighth generation. The term "application server" was first coined to describe this kind of middleware in 1998. Analyst firm Ovum said, "For IT departments, it signifies a comforting return to the good old days when software was centrally managed, deployed and controlled."Ê

What's it for?

Application servers provide an infrastructure for developing, integrating, securing and managing distributed applications. They can link new applications with legacy systems and provide a platform for web services and service-oriented architectures.

Java developers use the Weblogic Workshop to develop components such as Enterprise Java Beans, which can then be assembled into business applications. Project Beehive builds on the work of the Apache Foundation (XMLBeans, Tomcat, Struts) and Sun's forthcoming Java Development Kit 1.5, and is intended to make life easier for J2EE developers.

What makes it special?

Weblogic has a solid base among large J2EE and Linux users. Meta Group said, "With the acceptance by Apache, we expect a significant number of additional independent software suppliers and tool providers to leverage Beehive for creating reusable services in Java due to its openness and simplicity."

How difficult is it to master?

You could become a BEA certified developer, system administrator or architect, each of which requires you to take four courses on BEA's products. Prerequisites for developer status include a knowledge of Java/J2EE and object-oriented development.

Where is it used?

BEA users are mostly in the financial services, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail telecoms and transport sectors. They include BT, Bupa, Charles Schwab, Lufthansa, Pfizer, Sony Pictures and Visa.

What systems does it run on?

Weblogic Server 8.1 implements the web protocols Soap, WSDL, UDDI, and XMLBeans. It is interoperable with .net and has native JMS messaging, Java Connector Architecture and Com+ and Corba connectivity. Weblogic Workshop is supported by leading development products such as JBuilder from Borland.

Not many people know that...

Oracle, which is well behind BEA in terms of application server sales, has stated an interest in acquiring BEA. The situation is not helped by Gartner's recommendation that users delay any large-scale commitments to BEA until the company's long-term strategy becomes clearer.

What's coming up?

BEA is holding a free dev2dev roadshow in London on 23 November.

Training

Weblogic courses are available from BEA itself and from training partners around the UK. A free version of Weblogic Workshop with full developer features and limited deployment can be downloaded from the BEA website.

Rates of pay

Weblogic developer salaries start at £30,000, rising to £55,000 for senior developers. Rates for "architects" are better still and there is a thriving contract market with rates of up to £650 a day.
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