Oracle buys BEA – now what?

26 Jan

The big news in technology last week was Oracle’s purchase of BEA systems. There is a lot of overlap in their product lines, specially in middleware. The general consensus is that BEA’s lineup was superior to competing Oracle products. Although Oracle has revamped its application server in the last few years, it has failed to displace IBM WebSphere and BEA Weblogic from the top two spots. Many analysts believe that this acquisition strengthens Oracle’s middleware portfolio and will allow it to go head on against IBM in that arena. Doug Henschen of Intelligent Enterprise points to a Forrester Research analysis (you made need to register to view this free report) published last year when Oracle announced its bid for BEA. The Forrester report has side-by-side product comparison and pointed out products from either stable that are at risk of being replaced. However, they mention that there is high level of overlap between Aqualogic BPM and Oracle BPEL Process Manager and that there is no BEA product comparable to Oracle BPA Suite. I think it would be more appropriate to put Aqualogic BPM and BPEL Process Manager together with BPA Suite into the same bracket.

Anyway, what does this mean for Oracle and BEA customers? In the short term, probably nothing. Licensing and maintenance revenues from BEA’s existing customers will add to Oracle’s coffers. The last thing it wants is to lose this money by pushing these customers into a rival’s arms. It will continue to support these products for the next few years just like it is doing with Peoplesoft, J.D. Edwards and Siebel under its Applications Unlimited promise . However, it may stop enhancing these products and eventually raise costs so much that customers will eventually be left with no choice but to migrate. If Oracle chooses to cherry pick best of breed products for the long run, even customers with some of its existing products may face a potential migration – only in this case it will be an “upgrade”.

For new customers customers this means that there will be one less available option. Forrester’s analysis concludes: “Shops that want to retain an independent middleware vendor as competitive leverage against their major suppliers will now have to look to smaller, more risky suppliers, to open source software, and to second-tier providers like Sun and Software AG.”


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