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Oracle sets middleware lineup following BEA deal

Oracle's post-BEA-buy middleware lineup will stress Oracle WebCenter portal (with AquaLogic User Interaction), WebLogic application server and JRockit JVM.

And the winners are …

Six weeks after closing its $8.5 billion buyout of BEA Systems Inc., Oracle has prioritized its middleware lineup.

The go-to portal going forward will be Oracle WebCenter, although the company will continue to support the Plumtree, WebLogic and Oracle Portal brands, several sources said. Oracle WebCenter will get a taste of BEA, however, as Oracle plans to integrate BEA's AquaLogic User Interaction framework into the winning portal.

BEA's JRockit will be crowned the No. 1 Java Virtual Machine over Oracle's own JVM.

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And, not surprisingly, BEA's popular WebLogic Server gets the nod as the strategic Java container or application server of choice over Oracle's own. Most observers saw BEA's strength in app servers (and its large customer base) as the motivation behind Oracle's initial bid last fall.

Oracle execs shared the middleware lineup with staff at the company's annual sales kickoff in Las Vegas Wednesday, but it will not be made public until July 1, sources said. One reason is that Oracle is in a quiet period before announcing its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2008 results on June 25. However, the company also has to energize and train its sales and support people and partners so they can hit the ground running.

Several sources at the event confirmed these details, but a spokeswoman would not comment on the product lineup plans.

Kickoff attendees want to get the ball rolling. "Look, there was a lot of [product] duplication between BEA and Oracle. Decisions had to be made and these look like good decisions," one attendee said.

Oracle closed its buyout of BEA Systems, a leader in middleware, in late April after a long, contentious process. Many observers saw the acquisition as an attack on IBM's WebSphere middleware lineup. Oracle and IBM vie for market leadership in Java-centric middleware, while Microsoft promotes its own .NET-based stack.

On the partner front, John Gray, recently promoted to group vice president of technology for North America alliances and channels, has tried to put some teeth in the company's deal registration system. That partner relationship management (PRM) system is meant to protect partner-led deals from poaching by Oracle's sales force. Gray heads the partner sales efforts around the database and middleware products.

Upon registration, the Oracle direct sales and telesales people are proactively notified by email to stay away from the sale. In the past, Oracle sales people would know about the deal by checking the system.

Partners have complained that the system actually tips Oracle sales off about new business that they then try to take for themselves. They charge that PRM can thus provoke more channel conflict than it resolves. Lately, however, partners have said that Oracle is actively resolving such cases.

Gray and his applications counterpart, Tyler Prince, must forge a workable relationship between Oracle partners and the company's aggressive direct sales force.

At one point, Gray acknowledged to attendees that partners have to accept Oracle's direct sales DNA. According to one attendee, Gray said, "I'm not Superman. Oracle has always had direct sales and that won't change. However, there are ways to grow the market for internal and external sales and service providers alike."

Oracle will push middleware sales very hard this year, all of the sources stressed. "Middleware will continue to be the dominant revenue growth area, that and business intelligence," according to one attendee.

Other tidbits from Las Vegas:

  • Oracle revenue coming via partners was up 49% year over year.
  • The heretofore separate CRM and ERP sales organizations are being combined.
  • Prices on many BEA products will be raised.
  • Partners will be encouraged to push products into companies with less than $50 million in revenue, which means that the company is continuing its down-market push from its enterprise roots.

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