Briefs: February 27, 2006


Acquisitions like the October purchase of portal software maker Plumtree helped fuel growth, and all of BEA’s product lines and geographies hit their sales targets, CEO Alfred Chuang said during a conference call with analysts last Thursday.

Channel sales have been strong, Chuang said, though he declined to provide any numbers to back up his claim that BEA is gaining traction in the channel against rivals Oracle and IBM.

“What we’re seeing is VARs selling our products instead of our competitors’. Right now, it really is looking very, very good, mostly because they see our product as very easy to install and VAR-friendly,” Chuang said. “Our product sells itself.”

BEA reported fourth-quarter GAAP net income of $35.4 million, down from $41.6 million a year ago, which the company attributed to one-time tax charges. Excluding acquisition costs, facilities consolidation charges and other special items, BEA reported net income of $48.7 million, an 8 percent increase from its year-ago net income. Non-GAAP earnings per share were 12 cents, in line with the consensus forecast from Thomson Financial. BEA’s license sales revenue rose to $155.9 million, up 18 percent from the previous year’s fourth quarter. Chuang forecast another double-digit license revenue increase for BEA’s first fiscal quarter of 2007, now ongoing.

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Novell has named a former Dell executive as its new vice president and general manager of channels and alliances.

Steve Erdman, 41, will oversee channel sales for the Americas, a company spokesman said. Erdman replaces Mark Hardart, former vice president and general manager of Novell’s Worldwide Partners and Channels, who left the company four months ago. Ladd Timpson continues as worldwide director, channel and alliance marketing.

At Dell, Erdman was vice president. Prior to his three years there, the Atlanta-based executive worked at 3Com for three years and at IBM’s PC and server group for 13 years. Erdman said he has not yet mapped out Novell’s channel sales strategy, but he is committed to strengthening Novell’s partner network as a differentiator in the Linux market. He said: “When I was at IBM, it was 99 percent channel so everything we did was developing, growing and fostering a profitable channel model, and at 3Com, 95 percent of solutions came though the channel. Even at Dell, which is obviously a direct company, we had a lot of alliance partners who helped deliver world-class solutions.”

Sun Microsystems has released the beta version of Java Enterprise Edition 5, which gives developers a peek at a new programming model and toolset designed to make building enterprise Java applications quicker and easier.

Java EE 5 supports an array of new technologies for simplifying the creation of Web application interfaces and the invocation of Web services. It also streamlines the amount of code required to build applications.

Sun is concurrently releasing a set of tools to support Java EE 5, including the NetBeans 5.5 Enterprise Pack Preview. That pack features UML tools and visual design tools for service-oriented architecture developers. Also launched last week was Sun’s Java System Application Server Professional Edition 9.0 beta, based on technology from the GlassFish open-source Java EE 5 application server project.

“Previous releases have lagged behind the Java specifications from a tooling perspective,” said Dan Roberts, Sun’s director of developer tools marketing. “This is a new direction with the [tools] technology. We want to get it out there for the community to preview and give us feedback very early on in the process.”

Sun is aiming at a summer commercial release for Java EE 5. The company also recently released the beta of the next version of its Java Platform Standard Edition, aka Project Mustang.

WLAN security vendor AirMagnet has brought in Tim Straight as vice president of sales.

A security industry veteran with nearly three decades of experience, Straight comes to AirMagnet from Commtouch Software, where he was vice president of sales and marketing. He also has held sales and business development positions with NetScreen (now owned by Juniper Networks), Check Point Software, Mirapoint, VitalSigns Software and Synoptics/Bay Networks (now part of Nortel Networks).

In addition to his sales duties, Straight also will be responsible for developing and expanding AirMagnet’s channel partner relationships. He replaces Stewart Fox, who left AirMagnet last year and is now vice president of worldwide sales at DeepNines Technologies.

IBM said it will pay a 10 percent referral fee to partners who drum up leads for select Web services vendors. The offer is open to any solution provider who signs up as an IBM Global Services channel partner, said Dave Mitchell, director of strategy for software as services at IBM.

Partners who refer their customers to any one of about 25 Web services partners of IBM—a group that includes Exchange hosting vendor Apptix, HR management software service provider Success Factors, and security and performance monitoring vendor Corente—will be paid 10 percent of the booked revenue from the first year of the closed deal, Mitchell said.

The typical deal size with any of the 25 or so IBM Web services partners ranges from $50,000 to $100,000 and up, he said. IBM hosts the offerings for each of the 25 Web services partners.

SALESFORCE.COM HAS STRONG 4Q DESPITE OUTAGES’s fourth fiscal 2006 quarter could be called the best of times and the worst of times.

For the period ended Jan. 31, it posted record sales of $91.1 million, up 67 percent from the year-ago period. It earned nearly $5.96 million, or 5 cents per share. First Call consensus was that the company would hit sales of $91.8 million and EPS of 5 cents.

The company said it added 48,000 new subscribers during the quarter. It now claims 399,000 total subscribers worldwide.

But the quarter was extremely tough for the software-as-a-service bellwether, which experienced several outages that left CRM customers stranded and angry. CEO Marc Benioff attributed the problems to infrastructure swapped in during the period. He said will devote $1 million to $1.5 million to R&D quarterly to bolster that architecture, in theory helping become what he calls “the eBay of enterprise applications.”

That comes atop the $50 million spent on its much-touted “Mirrorforce” infrastructure upgrade, which introduced redundant data centers on both coasts. can afford the investment. Thanks in large part to its lucrative IPO, the company has a stash of more than $200 million in cash and liquid assets.