Business software maker BEA Systems today spent $100 million to acquire a Java start-up called
Theory Center, which makes software for creating e-commerce
Theory Center, based in Boston, makes pre-written Java software code that
helps software developers build Web sites that connect their customers,
employees, suppliers, and partners together.
Today's move helps BEA better compete against rivals IBM, Microsoft,
Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and dozens of others in the burgeoning application server market, which
is expected to grow to $2 billion in revenue by year 2002, according to
analyst firm Forrester Research.
Application servers have emerged as the primary tool for creating
e-commerce Web sites. They sit between Web browsers and backend services--such as databases and stock-trading systems--and run the transactions.
Analyst Anne Thomas Manes, of Patricia Seybold Group, said she believes BEA
is the first application server maker to buy a software firm that builds
pre-built software code, called components, for e-commerce. About 20
independent companies sell pre-built software code, including Tradex and
Trilogy, she said.
"This helps BEA because they can just walk into a customer's site and say,
'We've got the framework for building e-commerce applications and you can
do it in a short amount of time,'" Manes said.
IBM also offers components, but
the technology is aimed at building financial and human resources
applications. Oracle recently released pre-built components that
handle connections to databases.
Manes said Theory Center's components--based on the Enterprise JavaBeans programming
model--give businesses everything they need to create an e-commerce site
within a month or two. It features customizable components for order entry,
financial transactions, and links to partners and customers, she said.
BEA chief executive Bill Coleman said today's acquisition complements its
application server. Last year, BEA purchased application server maker
WebLogic for about $192 million.
"We think this gives us first mover advantage in having the components
necessary to assemble applications for e-commerce," Coleman said. "We have
the most complete, open set of tools that can be used out-of-the-box to
configure an e-commerce site."