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7/20/2004
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BEA Unveils Software Kit For Business Process Automation

BEA Systems Inc. unveils a bundle of tools for automating business processes through a combination of software integration, application development and workflow.

BEA Systems Inc. on Monday unveiled a bundle of tools for automating business processes through a combination of software integration, application development and workflow.

The BEA WebLogic Server Process Edition includes the company's Java-based WebLogic application server, its Workshop development tools and specialized integration tools for connecting information technology systems into a specific workflow.

A company, for example, could use the new product to automate the process of handling an insurance claim or mortgage application.

The new product is billed as a “kick-start kit” for companies moving toward a service-oriented architecture, which proponents say is the next-generation of distributed computing.

The market for SOAs, including software, services and hardware, is expected to reach $21 billion by 2007, according to research firm International Data Corp. Use of web services standards, a major component of SOAs, is also expected to increase dramatically, with 80 percent of businesses expected to have projects underway by 2008.

Because industry standards are core to an SOA, the architecture has attracted a lot of attention among companies looking for a vendor-neutral approach to computing.

Early adopters, however, have found it difficult to connect applications exposed through web services into a business process, Ronald Scmelzer, analyst for ZapThink LLC, said.

“BEA is tackling the problem with product and is hoping to give companies a head start at building SOAs,” Schmelzer said. “We'll have to see whether it really helps in the long term.”

Rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. have focused on consulting services to help companies develop best practices and build SOAs, Schmelzer said. BEA's strategy, however, does give its partners more opportunity to make money through services, which could help BEA move product.

BEA WebLogic Server Process Edition shares a common administration, security, development and runtime framework as the more robust BEA WebLogic Platform 8.1, which includes a portal, integration and application servers and an integrated development environment.

The new product sells for $27,000 per processor.

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