Oracle Corp. plans to welcome a bevy of BEA partners into its ecosystem, Oracle president Charles Phillips said Tuesday.
In a webcast held to outline the revamped Oracle middleware lineup, Phillips said the company is embracing "the expanded partner ecosystem."
"We don't want to reduce it," he said.
On July 7, the company kicks off a 70-city partner enablement tour to provide executive-level introductions and technical "deep dives" into each product category, Phillips said.
There are now 11,000 channel partners -- including BEA partners -- who can implement Oracle middleware, including 5,000 new BEA-centric ISVs, Phillips said. The BEA partners sport deep knowledge of service-oriented architecture (SOA), Web services and middleware that are invaluable, according to Oracle.
Tuesday's webcast was hosted by Phillips and Thomas Kurian, senior vice president for Oracle server technologies development and the mastermind behind Oracle's $8.5 billion buyout of BEA. Up until the deal, BEA Systems was a huge application server and middleware rival for Oracle.
The buyout gives credibility to Oracle's claims of middleware market share supremacy, even against IBM and its WebSphere behemoth. But Phillips also reiterated that Oracle will continue its standards-based "hot-pluggable" push that enables Oracle tools to work with Sun, Hewlett-Packard and IBM Java Virtual Machines (JVMs), for example.
Kurian was very specific in describing which of the overlapping Oracle middleware products will be "strategic" going forward. BEA's WebLogic application server will become the de facto choice, as reported by SearchITChannel.com earlier this month. And BEA's JRockit is the premier JVM, while Oracle's own WebCenter will be the go-to portal. Oracle JDeveloper will remain the integrated toolset for use across Oracle's Fusion middleware lineup. BEA Workshop users will move to a new, free Oracle Eclipse Pack.
Existing Oracle E-Business Suite customers now running Oracle's app server can continue on that path or move to WebLogic at their discretion. Kurian and Phillips stressed that there will be no forced migrations and pledged to honor previous BEA commitments for product maintenance timelines.
In some cases, the company will "continue and converge" existing offerings that overlap, and it promised that convergence will happen in six to 18 months.
For example, in enterprise service busses (ESBs), the company will converge facets of Oracle's and BEA's offerings to combine the strengths of both. "The BEA bus had elegant high-performance transport, stateless routing support and xQuery transformation. Oracle's ESB had domain value mapping so you could pick specific transformations to be applied in each domain and support for in-memory event monitoring. We'll get to a single service bus combining both," Kurian said.
The execs were reassuring about not discontinuing any active product lines, but big concerns remain. The biggest -- that Oracle would raise BEA prices -- already came to pass in the June 16 price list.
Oracle talks a good game but it's too soon to tell about execution, some partners said. "Oracle's playing the CA game by buying licensing and maintenance revenue streams," said George Brown, CEO of Database Solutions Inc., a King of Prussia, Penn.-based solution provider that works with both Oracle and BEA. "The fear is they'll raise prices." He acknowledged that Oracle is making the right kind of noise about continuing product lines, but only "time will tell."
Another longtime Oracle partner seconded that. "Wait till these BEA and Agile and Demantra customers see what Oracle does on maintenance. They will be shocked," this partner said. Oracle bought Agile and Demantra within the last few years.
Sastry Taruvai, chief information officer of Bluenog, a large BEA partner (and now Oracle partner) in Piscataway, N.J., was more optimistic. While noting that there are always concerns in the lead-up to and wake of a big acquisition, Taruvai said, "I like the way the roadmap looks. Where there's overlap they're trying to take the best of both [product lines] and fold them together."
The fact that both BEA and Oracle middleware lines were heavily standards-based eases some integration issues, he noted. He did wonder a bit how Oracle will logistically fold parts of WebLogic Portal into its own WebCenter portal since the BEA offering has a "pretty big footprint."
He was also heartened that Oracle seems to be retaining key BEA people at the director and VP level. Earlier this week Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said that BEA's Steve Au-Yeung will head up Oracle Asia. BEA is traditionally very strong in that region, especially in China. Oracle's growth there was lackluster last quarter, prompting a management change, Phillips said on the earnings call.