BEA Systems is looking to broaden its middleware business with a solutions framework that can help WebLogic Platform users build service-oriented architectures (SOA) for tackling common enterprise pain points such as boosting customer service.
The move marks BEA's entry into the bundled technology solutions arena, traditionally a stronghold for rival IBM and it is supported by several major software suppliers.
The framework is part of BEA's Liquid Computing initiative, unveiled at its user conference last spring. The bundled offering will use BEA's WebLogic Platform, through its portlets and reusable service-oriented integration components called controls, to build SOAs for five common enterprise goals: customer service, employee service, service delivery platforms, trade processing and radio frequency identification capability.
The framework includes elements supplied by a slew of partners, including SAP, Business Objects, Documentum and Siebel Systems, which add to the offering's architecture reference blueprint, workflow examples, best practices and services. BEA plans to provide frameworks for four vertical markets: telecommunications, financial services, manufacturing and government.
Oncology Therapeutics Network, a San Francisco-based distributor of specialty medical products, has been talking to BEA about using the new frameworks to help it integrate pieces of its CRM and ERP packages via an SOA, said Rajan Jena, an enterprise architect at OTN.
"We are particularly interested in a set of prebuilt components that are a one-time effort to create and can be reused," he said.
OTN already has used the web services framework in BEA's WebLogic development platform to streamline the creation of a web-based front end for its employee self-service portal.
"It helps us do our round-trip development much faster than plain-vanilla J2EE," Jena said. For existing applications, OTN has used the framework to create a "facade" of a web services API call on top of legacy applications. Then the applications are exposed inside the portal.
Companies need guidance on many aspects of building an SOA, such as arranging web services in the right order, said Ronald Schmelzer, a senior analyst at ZapThink.
But although the new programme is a forced response to IBM's success in the bundled solutions business, Schmelzer said BEA runs the risk of alienating its integration partners.
Heather Havenstein writes for Computerworld