HolidayBuyer's Guide

BEA's "Switzerland" play

Convention wisdom among many pundits is that BEA Systems will ultimately be marginalized by the industry heavy-weights with more resources, market clout and broader product lines. Not surprisingly, BEA sees things differently.

The Java server software company on Thursday launched AquaLogic, a new product line meant to revive sales at the company and broaden its audience beyond the Java programmer crowd. The product introduction in New York on Thursday is part of an overall company re-branding strategy, which chief marketing officer Marge Breya called "tasteful" and "Apple-esque."

The idea behind AquaLogic is compelling: technical professionals can stitch together pre-written Web services into a business process flow with a configuration or "composition" tool rather than cutting lines of Java code.

BEA certainly isn't the first to pursue this notion. But the company has a lot riding on the success of AquaLogic.

From a competitive point of view, BEA argues that going with a stand-alone infrastructure software company is better than aligning with industry giants Oracle, Microsoft, IBM or SAP, which can offer more of a one-stop-shopping alternative to corporate customers.

Breya on Thursday positioned BEA's AquaLogic "service infrastructure layer" as a complement to the packaged application providers —Oracle and SAP— and interoperable with other platforms, notably Microsoft's .Net and other J2EE providers.

"It's important that this layer span any programming methodology -- .Net, (SAP) NetWeaver, IBM, or (BEA) WebLogic services," she said. "It can't be my services are better than your services."

To underscore their desire to be the Switzerland of enterprise software, BEA issued a joint press release with Microsoft that "reiterated their commitment to address customer interoperability needs through joint support for Web services."

The other reasons BEA needs a winner with AquaLogic are fairly obvious: the company needs a revenue boost. Selling to more people within a given company, be they line-of-business application specialists or architects, helps that cause.

And finally, BEA's would like to maintain its reputation as a provider of cutting-edge infrastructure software as it —and its competitors- journey into new territory.