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BEA ships key software upgrade

With the release of WebLogic Platform 8.1, the Java server software company is betting on improved integration in its battle against rivals.

Server software maker BEA Systems has released the final components of a crucial upgrade to WebLogic Platform, its flagship product.

BEA WebLogic Platform 8.1 is a suite of Java-based server software for building custom business applications. The package includes an application server for running Java programs, a corporate portal, specialized integration software and a development tool for writing programs based on Java and on XML (Extensible Markup Language).

The upgraded suite is a critical introduction in BEA's battle to gain share in the cutthroat market for Java server software. The San Jose, Calif.-based company is betting that the package's technological advances, combined with an integrated suite of products, will help fend off competitors.

BEA lost the top spot in the market for Java application servers to IBM last year, according to research firm Gartner Dataquest. It still commands 29 percent of sales in application servers that adhere to the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standard, but Oracle, IBM and open-source rivals--notably JBoss Group--are intent on taking BEA's business.

With WebLogic Platform 8.1, released Tuesday, BEA seeks to simplify the integration of disparate corporate systems--a perennial headache for information technology managers.

The WebLogic Workshop 8.1 development tool is designed to allow programmers to easily build new applications that pull data from existing applications. In addition, it promises to help create Java applications that can run in the different components of the WebLogic Platform suite. The software includes a graphical tool to simulate the steps in a business process.

Analysts say a key selling point for the suite is that it provides a single tool for generating both Web-based Java applications and code for BEA's integration software and portal. With one tool, companies can avoid training programmers on a number of specialized third-party products.

Customers can download the entire suite, including WebLogic Integration 8.1, WebLogic Portal 8.1 and the development tool WebLogic Workshop 8.1., from the company's

BEA plans to highlight WebLogic Platform 8.1 and its push into application integration at a press conference with company CEO Alfred Chuang in San Francisco on Aug. 4.