BEA Unveils Software Kit For Business Process Automation 2

The bundle lets users automate 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 service-oriented architectures, including software, services and hardware, is expected to reach $21 billion by 2007, according to research firm IDC. Use of Web-services standards, a major component of service-oriented architectures, is also expected to increase dramatically, with 80% of businesses expected to have projects under way by 2008.

Because industry standards are core to a service-oriented architecture, 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, said Ronald Scmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink LLC. "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 have focused on consulting services to help companies develop best practices and build service-oriented architectures, 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 is priced at for $27,000 per processor.

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