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BEA reaches beyond Java roots

Tech professionals will be able to assemble applications without Java coding using new software to be introduced this summer.

BEA Systems this summer plans to launch a new product line, part of the company's attempts to revive revenue.

As previously reported, the new products will be an offshoot of BEA's WebLogic infrastructure software. However, the server software company will market the products to a slightly different audience than its traditional Java programmer customers.

BEA plans to announce its "service infrastructure" suite in June and release it by the end of the year, said Bill Roth, vice president of product marketing at the company. He said BEA considers the software to be a new product category.

"It's a big market," said Roth, who estimated that the overall market for this sort of infrastructure software will grow to $8 billion by 2008. "If we can take a piece out of that, we'd be a great deal bigger in size."

The product introduction is meant to stimulate sales at BEA, which has seen a drop-off in new license revenue in the past four quarters.

Like BEA's WebLogic products, the new service infrastructure software will be designed for constructing business applications such as a company Web site or a claims-processing program.

But rather than write Java to build applications, the forthcoming BEA line will allow a person to assemble a program with visual tools and minimal coding, Roth said. "You bring applications together by configuration, not necessarily coding," he said.

Roth said that users would still require substantial technical skills. However, tasks will be easier because most of the coding will be done by modifying XML rather than Java.

In particular, BEA is targeting software architects who tend to have strong technical skills as well as a good understanding of a company's business processes, he said.

BEA's service infrastructure products will draw on its existing software, including Liquid Data for XML data access; its security server software for authenticating network identity; and its Web services integration and process automation software, called Quicksilver.

The goal of creating business applications with minimal or no coding has been pursued by software engineers and academics for years.

Roth said that the emergence of Web services standards and a design approach called service-oriented architecture, or SOA, make the notion of rapid construction of applications more realistic. Rather than starting from scratch, developers can now reuse programs.