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Sun starts shipping BEA’s WebLogic Server 7.0

Sun Microsystems has begun shipping evaluation copies of BEA’s WebLogic Server 7.0 with its Solaris 9 Operating Environment System Administrator’s Kit, even though the OS already comes with Sun’s own application server.

Sun Microsystems has begun shipping evaluation copies of BEA’s WebLogic Server 7.0 with its Solaris 9 Operating Environment System Administrator’s Kit. Although Solaris 9 already comes with an application server — Sun’s own Open Net Environment (ONE) AS offering — the vendor says the agreement is designed to maximise customer choice and reduce deployment costs.

“This initiative strengthens our relationship [with BEA] and underscores our commitment to customers to increase choice and reduce cost and time to deployment,” says Stuart Wells, senior vice president of Sun Microsystems’ market development organisation.

“By delivering a six-month trial version of BEA WebLogic Server 7.0 with every Solaris 9 kit, along with the pre-loaded, fully integrated Sun ONE Application Server 7 Platform Edition, customers can realise the immediate benefits of choice and the open approach to enterprise and Net based computing,” he adds.

The deal is also good news for BEA as it provides the software vendor with yet another distribution channel for its WebLogic products. “BEA continues to be the dominant J2EE application server and it will remain so, even in this part of the world… However, the partnership will encourage the spread of our platform and it will also give more choice to the customer,” says Diyaa Zebian, business development manager for BEA in the Middle East.

Just how many users decide to exercise this choice and install the evaluation packs over the in-built software remains to be seen. Ahmad El Dandachi, SunOne sales executive for Sun Microsystems in the Middle East, suspects that regionally the number will be low and the majority of local users will opt for Sun’s pre-loaded software.

“The Sun ONE [application server] is completely pre-integrated with Solaris and ready to use, so customers can take advantage of the features immediately… There will be no real impact on the [use of] Sun’s application server because all Sun is doing is providing an evaluation copy of the WebLogic server,” he says.

While providing an alternative J2EE based application server with Solaris increases the choices Sun is giving its users and generates a certain amount of good PR, Gartner Group suggests that Sun’s motivation is deeper seated. In fact the analyst firm’s vice president and research director, Yefim Natis, says the move is “a quiet admission that its Sun ONE strategy has not sufficiently succeeded.”

Evidence of this, he continues, comes from the reduced number of application servers sold by Sun since it ended its original strategic partnership with BEA.

“Sun [has] promoted its application server as the best option for J2EE application projects since its introduction of Sun ONE in 2001. However, Sun’s competitor and former strategic partner BEA continues to outsell Sun by a wide margin. Before Sun became a competitor of BEA, BEA’s success also contributed to Sun’s success as most BEA deployments were on Solaris. Now, growing numbers of BEA server sales go to HP and other Sun competitors. Meanwhile, the Sun ONE platform has only moderate rates of adoption by independent software vendors or enterprise software development projects,” he explains.

While Gartner’s words may ring true, it appears that the issue, for Sun at least, is about more than application servers as the vendor seems to be more than happy to concede application server market share in return for the continued use of the Solaris OS.

“Today, the application server is becoming a commodity because everyone needs one… We want to continue working with BEA and ensure that people use Solaris and J2EE… While providing more choice for our customers, the partnership with BEA allows us to strengthen our gateway market share and we want Solaris to continue to be the leading J2EE platform,” says El Dandachi.

Zebian admits that this makes sense as, unlike BEA, Sun has to spread its resources between numerous products. “J2EE is BEA’s main focus and WebLogic is the main focus and source of revenue [for the company.] However, Sun has other products to focus on,” he says.

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