Oracle and BEA: One Big Happy Family?

NEW YORK -- Boasting approximately 300,000 customers, Oracle claims to be the world’s largest enterprise software provider. On April 30, the provider of database, application, and middleware solutions got a little bit bigger with the successful conclusion of its hard-won acquisition of enterprise middleware firm BEA Systems. At a customer event held here yesterday, Oracle executives shared details of the integration of BEA products and the company's strategy going forward.

Before the start of the event, one customer, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared his apprehension: He said privately that he's lived through the mergers and acquisitions of other technology suppliers, and that it can be a real mess for the customer -- not knowing which vendor to go through for support and what products will have to be replaced. Clearly, Thursday’s event at the Hilton Hotel was held, in part, to assuage the fears and concerns of customers like him -- customers of both BEA and Oracle alike -- and to provide visibility into Oracle’s future plans.

“You won't like everything you hear,” Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president of product development at Oracle, told the crowd. “But let’s provide a clear direction and roadmap and work with you where it’s necessary. Where there’s an impact, [we want] to help you make that transition.” He promised attendees that no solutions will have to be replaced for at least five years down the road. There will be no forced migration, he said, and all products will continue to be supported for a minimum of nine years. He also promised that, while there will be changes in personnel, there will be no changes to strategic principles. Oracle, he added, will be retaining all BEA development centers.

“We, in general, are really excited about the combination. It brings together two of the leading platforms for middleware technology,” Rizvi said, adding that, for the most part, the BEA and Oracle technologies complement each other and fit together nicely. Several BEA products will replace pre-existing Oracle technologies, he said -- and, in some cases, BEA and Oracle products will fuse together to create what Rizvi called a more holistic product. Oracle Fusion Middleware, Rizvi said, is based upon development tools, an enterprise management suite, and an identity management suite. The product areas mostly affected by the BEA acquisition include:

  • user interaction,
  • services-oriented architecture (SOA) and process management,
  • application and development servers, and
  • grid infrastructure.

From a tools-development standpoint, Oracle has had a strategic investment in oracle JDeveloper. Oracle will continue that investment, Rizvi said, but it will also introduce an Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse, which brings together Oracle and BEA solutions for the Eclipse development platform. 

According to Rizvi, one of the biggest factors in the acquisition is the attainment of the BEA flagship product, WebLogic. Oracle will promote BEA’s WebLogic server under the packaging of Oracle WebLogic Suite. With the packaging, Oracle brings corresponding Oracle and BEA products into one package. Customers don’t have to have separate licenses or decide which product is best right now. They'll have access to WebLogic, as well as the Oracle Application Server, and several other complementary BEA and Oracle tools. “From both sides, the products bring more capabilities to the table,” Rizvi said. “Oracle Application Server continues to be invested in, [but] we make it easy to migrate off. It’s going to take a long time to get to a point when we won’t support it."

In terms of SOA, Oracle will continue with its investment in Oracle BPEL for business process management (BPM). Key changes include to the BPM suite include:

  • The use of AquaLogic Service Bus from BEA. Rizvi says the product is not pluggable quite yet, but Oracle will work on integrating it and making it available on other servers.
  • Oracle will use the BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Repository, since Oracle had no repository of its own.
  • Oracle will converge BEA and Oracle BPM products to be called Oracle BPMN & BPEL.

“The goal is to simplify packages so you don’t have to pick and choose,” Rizvi said. “In each of these [areas], there will be key new capabilities as part of the Oracle family.” In terms of Enterprise 2.0, Oracle and BEA each brought two portals to the table. Rizvi told the crowd that four portals are more than he would like, so Oracle will do some integration work and put together a comprehensive solution. 

The Identity Management sector will add AquaLogic AL-Enterprise Security, another tool Oracle did not have on its own. And as for the service-delivery platform, the vendor has switched from Oracle SIP to BEA WebLogic SIP. 

Rizvi boasted to the crowd that Oracle now has the world’s largest development project for middleware -- 4,500 developers worldwide. All current and future Oracle products, he said, are built on Oracle Fusion Middleware. The aforementioned shifts in Oracle’s packaging will be released in the next few months. Changes in pricing due to repackaging were not provided during the presentation. However, Rizvi noted there would be some shifting due to differing cost standards – BEA worked off multiple pricing lists and Oracle has global pricing standards. Rivzi noted, though, that costs might alter due to additions to the packaged suites -- which, on the plus side, means that customers now will get added capabilities and features.

Transparency in Oracle’s strategy was of key importance at the event. “We have roadmaps available, we have product managers working with you, and customer advisory boards," Rizvi told the audience. "The goal is for you to have support with whatever you are doing and work with you in going forward. Hopefully what you see is an improvement.”

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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