BEA Sails New Tack For Growth

"For the company, these changes will help provide growth," said Bill Roth, vice president of product marketing for the San Jose, Calif., vendor. "There are two ways to grow. One is to sell more of your existing products. The other is to sell more products. We now have more products. And it makes it easier for us to go -- in a nonthreatening way -- into IBM, Oracle and SAP accounts and say we can help you. Our goal is to be the Switzerland of software."

That could be a tough sell for BEA and its systems integrator partners. Despite having well-regarded application infrastructure products, the company has consistently come up short against the marketing muscle of IBM -- even as observers deride that vendor's hodgepodge of integration products, wired together by professional services. According to market research firm Gartner Group, IBM holds 37 percent of the global market for application integration and middleware, vs. 7 percent for BEA. Last year, BEA's revenue from new software licenses fell 7 percent from the year before. Quarterly license revenue for the first fiscal quarter fell 12 percent, to $116.05 million, from the previous, sequential quarter. That's a 3 percent drop in license revenue compared with the same period in 2004.

"A lot of people have been saying that the application server space -- which is BEA's bread and butter -- is becoming commoditized," said Kurt Stevenson, vice president of professional services for Back Bay Technologies, a Needham, Mass.-based systems integrator that partners with both BEA and IBM. "AquaLogic could be BEA's future."

Last week BEA announced its AquaLogic Services Bus (code named Project Quicksilver) and the AquaLogic Service Registry. The latter is a UDDI-compliant registry -- licensed from SOA pureplay Systinet -- where customers can find, add and remove services. BEA also rebranded its Liquid Data enterprise information integration server. Now called AquaLogic Data Services Platform, the server has been enhanced to write data-based services, rather than just read them. The newly rebranded AquaLogic Enterprise Security platform now allows customers to convert security policies into reusable services.

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"It's all about marketing and penetration," said Rob Wolfe, CEO of AvcomEast, in Vienna, Va. "IBM gives things away because they can leverage IBM Global Services. That's what the whole industry has to overcome with IBM. These new names actually give us a consistent branding we can take to the customer."