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BEA To Emphasize Software As Architected Services

It launched its Liquid Computing strategy, which is designed to get business processes to flow through a company without regard for boundaries set by the IT infrastructure.

BEA Systems this week launched what it's calling its Liquid Computing product strategy, which is aimed at getting business processes to flow through a company without regard for boundaries previously set by the IT infrastructure.

BEA will expand its WebLogic Application Server line this summer with a high-end product, WebLogic Server Process Edition, which is designed to make it easier for customers to plug in business-process management tools and use them with the application server, Chairman Alfred Chuang said during BEA's eWorld user conference in San Francisco.

In one case, that's already possible. ProActivity Inc. makes business-process-design software that can export design models made with ProActivity into BEA's Java ease-of-use development environment. The environment, Workshop, can generate code from models, and vice versa. If one changes, the other can be automatically synchronized with the change, says Chet Kapoor, general manager of WebLogic Integration Server. By linking ProActivity business-process design to Workshop, business processes may be represented as both an abstract function and workflow, then moved into a code-producing environment where the run-time code is generated to execute the processes.

WebLogic Server Process Edition will offer a broader opportunity for business-process design and management systems to plug into the application server, Kapoor says.

Liquid Computing is a brand name for what BEA Systems will make its recommended approach to IT infrastructure and services-oriented architecture.

BEA execs say they hope their customers will use the WebLogic product set--Application Server, Portal, Integration, and Workshop--to build software as a service that can be called over a network.

Instead of large, monolithic systems, a services-oriented architecture divides existing apps into discrete parts with Java interfaces. The functionality can be called out as needed to work for a new application, such as a Web application, or as part of a "composite" application that depends on several different legacy systems. New apps developed to the service-oriented-architecture model also would be modular, able to work separately.

The approach lends itself to frequent changes and rapid software updates as the business changes, says Scott Dietzen, BEA's chief technology officer. Software developed as or reconstituted as a set of services will follow a predictable set of standards, much like Web services, Dietzen says, and can be called without knowing much about the specific system behind the service.

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