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BEA enters Web services race

BEA enters Web services race

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In a bid to solidify its position as the application server vendor to beat, BEA Systems is beefing up its WebLogic product line with a new integration server and new versions of the application server platform and portal server.

WebLogic Integration Server, Version 2.0, will combine functions previously found in WebLogic Collaborate and WebLogic Integrator. In addition, it will come with a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) connector architecture aimed at encouraging developers to create connections to enterprise applications such as PeopleSoft.

"It means that you will no longer have to rely on proprietary adapters from EAI [enterprise application integration] vendors when you want to connect a Web application to a back-end ERP [enterprise resource planning] system," said George Kassabgi, vice president of engineering for the e-commerce server division at BEA.

BEA's integration server will rely on a network topology, unlike many EAI products that are based on point-to-point connections or a hub-and-spoke model. Server connectivity will be based on the JMS (Java messaging service) open standard.

Developers will also be able to extend connectivity outside the J2EE environment by mapping data to directly to Web Services via SOAP (simple object access protocol), UDDI (universal discovery and description interface) and WSDL (Web services definition language).

"This will give you access to simple services, such as checking on the status of a delivery," Kassabgi said. "For more complex business services we are also supporting XML standards such as RosettaNet and ebXML."

The new integration server will be available to download and test in June and will be generally available in July. It will run on top of the core WebLogic Application Server, which is also slated for a new release in July.

The new 6.1 version of the application server will allow developers to automatically bind the business logic in Java code to Web services.

"You will be able to use JSP [Java server pages] tags to get data from a Web services call," Kassabji said. This feature, he explained, will use Web services to make business logic inside EJBs [enterprise Java beans] available to any client, whether that client has J2EE or not.

BEA, together with e-business application vendor AltoWeb, will demonstrate J2EE applications with built-in Web Services at the conference. The two partners will show developers how to build e-business applications in areas such as supply chain and retail and then deploy them as Web services. AltoWeb makes an e-business platform designed to facilitate the development, deployment and management of e-business applications.

Will Wilbrink, Java solutions architect at MapInfo, said he is waiting for precisely these kinds of Web services.

"To improve our location-based services, we would very much like to expose J2EE server data through XML and then transcode it into a format such as WAP [wireless application protocol] for display on mobile phones," Wilbrink said.

BEA will also announce Version 4.0 of the Web Logic Portal Server. New in this release will be the bundling of applications from other portal vendors, most notably Autonomy, for unstructured information, and Screaming Media, for syndicated content.

BEA has about 30 per cent of the application server market, according to Chris Dial, analyst with Forrester Research.

"I am not surprised by this announcement," said Dial. "The application server is the most important technology in the Web services space."


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