Middleware is a tough business

Summary:ZDNet's David Berlind and News.com editor Martin LaMonica provide further thoughts on BEA's AquaLogic strategy.

ZDNet's David Berlind and News.com editor Martin LaMonica provide further thoughts on BEA's AquaLogic strategy.  They ponder whether the rising popularity of the LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP/Perl/Python) and now, LAMJ (Linux-Apache-MySQL-J2EE) stacks may be a force too mighty for a commercial supplier such as BEA to reckon with.

David even poses an interesting speculation of whether the time is ripe for a merger between BEA, the platform provider, and Borland, the tools provider.  "The cultural barrier to a merger with Borland has been completely dropped....  For the two companies to continue to survive the threat of players like IBM, JBOSS, Eclipse, LAMP, LAMJ, and Microsoft (with .NET and Visual Studio), perhaps now is the time that they'll realize that they can be stronger together than they can be apart."

I have spoken with various analysts over the years about both BEA and Borland, and some pointed out that middleware has consistently been a losing proposition from a commercial standpoint.  Kind of like trying to build a house on a shifting sandbar in the middle of a tidal current.  In the late 1990s, Borland attempted to reinvent itself as a company called "Inprise" that would focus on offering a CORBA-based middleware broker solution.  The Company Formerly Known as Borland soon realized it needed to regroup and return to its roots in development tools. (I know developers who swear by Borland's Delphi tool.)

BEA's biggest commercial competitors -- including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle -- all have other types of product lines to fall back on. But BEA is all about the middleware. Between huge commercial competitors and hugely popular open-source solutions, BEA has its work cut out for it. 

Topics: Enterprise Software


Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. Joe is co-author, along with 16 leading industry leaders and thinkers, of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation. He speaks frequently on cloud, SOA, data, and... Full Bio

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