This beat could last another five years

Rather than just fight open source, or just switch to open source, BEA is now trying to do a bit of both.

Tomcat
Adam Fitzgerald, director of developer marketing for BEA, says the company's "blended source" strategy will work for the foreseeable future.

Pressed on how long a future he foresees, Fitzgerald guessed about five years.

The open source movement is pressing all commercial software vendors, even giants like BEA. Rather than just fight, or just switch, BEA is now trying to do a bit of both. It's still pushing its commercial WebLogic product, but it's supporting open source adjuncts, contributing code to the community, and using open source in some of its development work.

BEA Systems logo
"We recognize our customers are using some open source solutions for running certain applications, that ours isn’t the only application server environment." So BEA is selling direct support for Apache Tomcat, and Tomcat shops will be able to manage Tomcat through Weblogic. BEA is also supporting the Spring Java/J2EE framework, as well as Apache Struts.

"There are two areas where open source is particularly successful," Fitzgerald said. "First is where a project satisfies a developer’s itch," as with Spring and Strut. "Then there are things which emerge out of a need for standards," such as Geronimo, a J2EE project that has just become available.

At the same time, Fitzgerald insists, commercial applications like Weblogic will remain best of breed for a long time, and commercial licenses will be able to go head-to-head against support contracts in the marketplace.

How long, exactly, is actually a question for the market. But five years does sound about right.

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