BEA Picks $200M Plum

Stumps up $200 million for portal vendor in an attempt to bolster its SOA story

August 24, 2005

3 Min Read
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BEA Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BEAS) has plunked down $200 million to acquire publicly traded portal vendor Plumtree Software Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUM).

The software giants shares were up 10 cents (1.12 percent) to $8.99 this morning, as BEA CEO Alfred Chuang made good on his recent promise to bolster the company’s Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) business (see BEA Looks to VOIP, SOA).

The major software vendors are currently jostling for position around SOAs, which let users run services in the form of application software across different computing environments. Analyst firm Gartner Inc. predicts that by 2008, most application revenue will come from products conforming to an SOA (see System Vendors Sight SOA).

Plumtree fits neatly into the whole SOA concept, offering portals that connect different parts of enterprise IT systems. Trouble is, unlike BEA’s existing WebLogic Portal Server product, Plumtree's portals are aimed at non-technical business users. “The type of people that build a portal on the Plumtree line may not even call themselves developers,” explained BEA’s CTO Mark Carges during a conference call last night.

In a nutshell, BEA’s exising portal software is focused on heavy-duty transaction-based work, whereas Plumtree is more geared towards connecting different groups of employees across a business.BEA, however, has no plans to combine the offerings. “We will continue to support both product lines -- each will be offered independently,” says Chuang.

Indeed, the deal is not just about technology. Plumtree has around 700 customers, about half of which will be completely new accounts for BEA. With Plumtree’s customers predominantly large enterprises and organizations in the government space, BEA is effectively buying a sizeable customer base in which to peddle SOA products.

Most of Plumtree’s 415 employees will be joining BEA, and there are plans to keep Plumtree’s head office in San Francisco. “Plumtree’s headquarters is only a block away from our office in San Francisco,” Chuang says. “That will become the largest campus in the company following the acquisition.”

Up to now, BEA has revealed few details of its long-term SOA roadmap, although the vendor recently overhauled its Tuxedo middleware and tweaked its AquaLogic product, both with a view to supporting the technology (see BEA Brushes Tuxedo For SOAs and BEA Ships AquaLogic Service Bus).

Other vendors are taking a range of approaches to improve their SOA stories. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), for example, has opened its arms to partners based on its WebSphere family of middleware products, whereas Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) launched a range of consulting services and new "competency centers" for customers (see IBM Rolls Out SOA Initiative and HP Expands SOA Services).Chuang has previously suggested that partnerships are likely to be the way forward for BEA, although he hinted last night that more acquisitions could be in the offing: ”We’re aggressively pursuing growth opportunities."

Plumtree shares were also on the up this morning, rising 56 cents (11.52 percent) to $5.42.

The transaction is expected to close in the fall.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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