BEA Cozies Up To Microsoft As Windows 2003 Launch Nears

Java software vendor promotes interoperability between J2EE, .Net

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In anticipation of Microsoft's forthcoming product launch, BEA Systems is promoting steps it has taken to ensure that its J2EE-based WebLogic platform works seamlessly with Windows applications built using Microsoft Visual Studio .Net.

Microsoft plans to roll out Windows Server 2003, Visual Studio .Net 2003 and SQL Server 2003 at a much-hyped event in San Francisco Thursday.

Benjamin Renaud, deputy CTO of BEA, based here, told CRN Monday that BEA has always supported Windows through added features in WebLogic supporting asynchronous input/output between WebLogic and Common Object Model (COM) objects.

COM is Microsoft's software architecture for building program routines, or objects, that can be executed in a Windows environment.

To build on this legacy of interoperability, BEA WebLogic Server 8.1, slated to ship in June, will be compliant with the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) group's Basic Profile. This is a set of guidelines for Web services specifications, including SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 2.0, XML 1.0 and XML Schema, that are to be used for developing interoperable Web services.

The final version of the WS-I Basic Profile 1.0 is slated to be out by early summer, according to the WS-I.

IBM and Microsoft co-founded the WS-I in February 2002 and have seats on its board. BEA is one of the group's original members and holds a board seat.

IBM, too, is planning to support interoperability between its WebSphere J2EE application server and Windows applications through the WS-I Basic Profile, said Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere infrastructure software at IBM.

Currently, IBM offers a WebSphere SDK for Web services, which Sutor said is "a fairly complete platform for Web services based on Java that we've specifically written so that it's as compatible as possible with [the draft version of the] WS-I Basic Profile."

IBM plans to release an updated SDK supporting the finalized WS-I Basic Profile as soon as it's ready, with an update to its WebSphere application server supporting the profile to follow.

Microsoft and BEA do not have a formal alliance, but they have been working together through the WS-I and on other Web services standards to ensure that applications based on J2EE will communicate effectively with applications built for the Windows platform, Renaud said.

Shawn Willett, principal analyst at research firm Current Analysis, said it's understandable that BEA is touting its relationship with Microsoft because corporate customers with both Windows and J2EE in their environments "are nervous about having two radically different architectures" in their systems.

Willett added that interoperability through Web services is a common interest for Microsoft, IBM and BEA, which compete directly in the development platform space.

But he warned that providing interoperability between J2EE and Windows applications through Web services alone may not do the trick.

"They're pinning all of their hopes on Web services solving these [interoperability] problems," Willett said. "It will certainly solve some of them."

Willett said vendors need to come up with a more tightly integrated way to link Java and Windows development rather than rely solely on Web services to bridge the gap.

"There's always going to be customers that have both environments [that] have a lot of anxiety about having the world bifurcated," Willett said.

However, developers would be well-served by a single programming model that enables them to build both J2EE and .Net applications, he added.

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