Oracle Corp. finally came up with an offer BEA Systems Inc. couldn’t refuse, but the sale is merely a prelude to a pile of “now what?” questions.
The next year in the application development software space will be shaped by this deal. How will BEA fit underneath the Oracle umbrella? What does this mean for open vs. proprietary tooling? Will BEA open new SOA arenas to Oracle or will this create an opportunity for competitors to win business as the Oracle-BEA assimilation takes place? Will SAP react? Will Microsoft react? Will IBM react?
I could go on all day, but I suspect you get the point: Oracle has agreed to buy BEA and the fallout promises to be massive.
Even though this deal has seemed imminent for months, the media and analyst community is trying to sort out the rationale behind it. Over at ZDNet, Larry Dignan’s blog entry notes “Ellison added that BEA will allow Oracle to instantly become a leader in messaging and ‘adds scale to our middleware business.’”
The Eye on Oracle blog from SearchOracle.com speaks with Forrester analyst Ray Wang, who says, “We expect accelerated consolidation along key battle grounds of middleware platforms such as Master Data Management, business intelligence, portals, business process management, and other information management tools. Don’t expect the competitors of BEA to sit still.”
Matt Asay at CNET flogs the conventional wisdom and asks if Oracle’s platform play will drive users toward open source offerings.
On his blog at SpringSource, Rod Johnson speculates that “the Oracle application server, OC4J, is history and Oracle will focus on driving WebLogic Server.” Yet that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s some of the other seemingly competitive products that need to be rationalized:
- Oracle Enterprise Service Bus, BEA AquaLogic Service Bus
- Oracle BPA Suite, BEA AquaLogic BPM
- Oracle Portal, BEA WebLogic Portal
- Oracle Web Services Manager, BEA AquaLogic SOA Management
- Orace Data Integrator, BEA AquaLogic Data Services Platform
- Oracle JDeveloper 10g, BEA Workshop
That last one is a real sticky wicket in that BEA built Workshop on the open source Eclipse IDE, while JDeveloper is still a fully proprietary offering. Where does the tooling go? Since Oracle bought BEA, you’d have to think this doesn’t bode well for BEA’s open tooling approach. If so, maybe Asay is onto something, maybe this is the end of the “commercial open source” path BEA was trying to navigate.
How well Oracle assimilates BEA and what decisions it makes about mixing and matching the two product lines could either give rise to an application development titan or send customer scurrying for alternatives. One thing it probably can’t afford to do is repeat what it’s done with the 2007 Hyperion acquisition, namely make a big money purchase and then remain mum on how it will fit long term into the Oracle Fusion product line. Hyperion was a complimentary acquisition, bringing business intelligence into the Oracle family. It can stand alone for a while. There’s too much redundancy with BEA for Oracle not to produce a fairly clear roadmap of how it all fits together.