BEA: Designers Tools

I have just featured some of the many graphic design tools announced by Adobe this past week … and many have a graphic and designer flair to them. But almost in a quiet fashion, middleware and emerging SOA powerhouse BEA has marshaled together an impressive line up of system design tools:
BEA AqualLogic BPM Suite – has SOA designer/simulator for BPEL layout and tested SOA designs
BEA Aqualogic Integrator – provides a studio to integrate and deploy those SOA designs
BEA AqualLogic Interaction Suite – combines studio with collaboration and portal framework
BEA Workshop Studio – Struts, JSP, JSF, Weblogic visual design to deployment in Eclipse mode.

But this is not what I wanted to FYI-you about. Rather it is the new set of BEA Social Computing Studios and Designers.

BEA Social Computing Suite

The BEA Social Computing Suite is a set of Studios designed for power users, Business analysts, and IT managers who want to promote better infrastucture for IT problem solving including providing agile, one-off/one-of-a-kind integration services as well as ongoing systems. This is currently the domain of PHP/Ruby/Python and even Perl. These scripting languages, especially PHP, have built up a huge set of Open Source blogs, bulletins boards, content management systems, galleries, polls and surveys, Portal services, site mapping and calendar services plus dozens of other complete and often free applications. Think Drupal, Joomla, Gallery, WordPress, Wikipedia and literally thousands of other projects – Boeing, NYTimes, Pfizer among many many others do.

What BEA is putting into place is a set of designers that can bring that same type of open source-inspired, social computing infrastructure to bear in shops large and small. Here is the line-up.

BEA AquaLogic Ensemble – Web management and developer-driven mashups
BEA AquaLogic Pages – A studio of drag-and-drop simplicity for creating wikis, blogs and basic Web applications
BEA AquaLogic Pathways – Collaborative info discovery and expertise identification; project metadata husbanded, shared

These tools had a direction that reminded me of the focus of Adobes set of Graphic, Video, Animation and Web development tools. Now what is impressive about the Adobe suite of Designer tools is that they are all fairly strongly integrated across the expanding Adobe/Macromedia suite of tools – especially Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Premiere. Likewise, BEA has done a good job integrating across its middleware, communications/interaction , portal, and SOA frameworks. The challenge will be how well both vendors integrate with major competitors beyond their own frameworks and designs. To an extent BEA has the lead there.

This is the fundamental challenge posed by the ever more strident demands by IT organizations for integration and interoperability – for 5 years running this issue (and variations on its integration theme) has been dominating the top ten IT issues list. And not just high level integration through Web Services but plug-and-play integration at every stage of system interaction – application servers and workflow , UI and Portals, through to database and persistence. And if vendors fail to deliver the plugin or open API or try to hide behind “works best in our total but proprietary/tightly coupled system solution”, then competitors and Open Source will surely fill those gaps if the vendors persist on leaving them.

Thus Adobe will have to go well beyond graphic file exchange or standard HTML/DOM/CSS or Adobes own Spry AJAX. For BEA this means going beyond integrating major databases plus Web Services and adding support for major competitors application servers, UI frameworks, messaging middleware, and SOA frameworks. In that regard – Adobe meet BEA application, interaction and portal servers. BEA meet Flash, PDF, AJAX and their integration in Apollo.

Given Open Source large developers like Adobe, BEA, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, Sybase and others are going to have to learn how and where the new distinct competencies are going be in UI presentation; new persistence frameworks and capabilities beyond relational; taking workflows beyond Web Services; plus integrating control, governance and system maintenance among other integration tasks. Then the trick will be to develop communities of 3rd party developers, opensource and toolmakers such that they make your product bigger and better tuned to the market than you could on your own. And this win-win positive effect works because there are many vendors and there is a vibrant ecosystem of 3rd party players.

In that regard, how BEA decides to promote and monetize its so far seemingly superbly targeted Social Computing Suite of studios will be very telling. Will they Oracle it ? Give away the full designers and make their money on the connecting servers, support services, and integration to their fast approaching complete set of integration frameworks and Studios to support them. Or will they take the BIRT approach and release basic Social Computing Designer tools and then charge for the upscale Designer or complete flow through solution bundle. Or will BEA take a bite-and-see approach, release a beta for free testing and then seee how the market approaches these tools and then carve a marketing/pricing strategy accordingly – somewhat similar to Adobes Lightroom and Photoshop CS3 betas.

I cant tell which is best; I can only promise to keep you informed. Curiously, the BEA press release on the Social Computing Suite is mum about marketing , release and deployment. Try http://en.terpri.se to get lots more details on functionality at least.


(c)JBSurveyer 2007 If you liked this, let others know:
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