BEA rolls out integration consulting service

BEA Systems is rolling out services for customers who want to integrate their business applications, a move designed to help lift...

BEA Systems is rolling out services for customers who want to integrate their business applications, a move designed to help lift sales of WebLogic Platform 8.1, launched last month.

Business Integration Assessment is geared specifically towards helping BEA customers tie together applications, according to Tom Ashburn, president of worldwide services.

For $21,000, BEA consultants will spend about five days on site with customers, helping them to figure out what the process of integration will entail and the best course to pursue.

"Basically, we develop a blueprint of what the customer needs. Then they can choose us to do the integration work for them, in which case we apply [the $21,000] to whatever we charge them to do the integration, or they may go and pick somebody else," he said.

Ashburn insisted that BEA is not trying build up a services business in its own right; the role of the services organisation is to help the company sell more software. Just under half of BEA's revenue comes from selling services, with the majority from customer support.

"I think we'll continue to run at about that rate. If we run higher it's because we haven't done our main job, which is to help sell more software licences," he said.

BEA is a "software platform pure play" that relies heavily on consulting partners to implement its products for customers, so Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler was unsurprised that it would downplay any ambitions in services. 

"If you're going to launch a service offering, you'd better declare loud and clear that you don't want to build a services business, because you don't want to upset your consulting partners," he said.

At the same time, BEA needs to be able to show customers what they can do with the various elements of WebLogic Platform 8.1, he said. The suite includes an application server, portal server, integration server and developer environment. It competes with similar "platform" offerings from IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, among others.

BEA also expanded its online support offerings for customers who subscribe to its "mission-critical" support option. Customers can now talk to support centre staff online, and generate reports which provide a history of their support calls for customers like.

The mission-critical support service includes a number of options including the services of an account manager. It costs $125,000 on top of BEA's standard support service fee, which typically costs 21% of the software licence fee.

BEA has also expanded its educational services to include training in WebLogic Platform 8.1, and added "best practices" around integration and the new software suite for its consulting partners.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service

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