BEA & Sybase Tap the Source

Software vendors hope to eclipse their rivals by linking up with the open-source community

February 24, 2005

3 Min Read
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What is it with open-source projects at the moment? It seems as if everyone and his wife is using the open-source community in an effort to open up a competitive edge.

The latest vendors to leap into the open-source arena are BEA Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BEAS) and Sybase Inc., which have teamed up with the Eclipse Foundation (see BEA Joins Eclipse and Sybase Joins Eclipse).

Although it describes itself as a "kind of universal tool platform," Eclipse is working on some pretty serious stuff: development programs to create applications for the likes of Java, C++, Enterprise Java Beans, and even Websites.

Both BEA and Sybase have become Eclipse board members and strategic developers, and BEA is merging its own open-source project, AspectWerkz, with Eclipses AspectJ project. Speaking on a conference call to discuss the initiative, Bill Roth, BEA’s vice president of product marketing, promised that the next generation of the company’s WebLogic workshop product will support the Eclipse framework.

So, why is this type of initiative so important for BEA? The firm’s WebLogic Enterprise platform is designed to support users’ Web services -- complex, Internet-based systems that deal with business processes ranging from online banking to human resources. Other members of the WebLogic family are geared towards developing portals for user access and simplifying application deployment.However, there is a feeling, particularly in the financial sector, that Web services may have reached their technology limits, and more development work could well be needed (see Web Services Hit Glass Ceiling ).

The decision to get involved with a broader community also has the potential to tie more developers and partners to BEA technology. This could be key, particularly at a time when BEA's arch-rival Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) seems hell-bent on world domination (see Oracle Shares PeopleSoft Plans).

There has even been speculation that Oracle, which recently won a war of attrition to buy PeopleSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: PSFT), could be on the lookout for another potential target, namely BEA.

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that BEA is so willing to put its money where its mouth is in an effort to boost its market presence. “It’s close to a $1.5 million a year investment in Eclipse,” notes Roth.

So, why did BEA decide to get involved now? Roth explains that the software vendor felt that Eclipse, which was set up by in 2001 by a number of vendors, including IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), is now gaining momentum within the industry. “Eclipse and the broader community participation has evolved to the point where it is obviously not just an IBM foundation,” he adds.BEA is not the only vendor embracing the open-source community at the moment. Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), for example, recently delivered on its promise to make the Solaris 10 operating system open source (see Sun Hits the Source).

Elsewhere, even IBM and Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA) have been getting in on the act (see IBM Donates to Open Source Community, CA Unveils Open Source Challenge, and Opening Up the Data Center).

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

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