BEA Systems has added the final touches to its application infrastructure vision, but market watchers are sceptical about users becoming locked-in to the vendor.
BEA WebLogic Portal 7.0 is the final addition to its infrastructure offerings.
Along with the core application server, its business process engine and its Java development toolkit, the WebLogic Portal is aimed at providing simplifying enterprise application development and integration, said Ian Doyle, senior architect, BEA.
The portal software may be of interest to some BEA customers currently without a portal, said Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research. But being locked in to BEA's application server would scare off some customers, he added.
The portal market is crowded with competitors all vying for users. Firms such as Plumtree, Hummingbird, Sun and Computer Associates all have established portal products. Sun's latest portal release, due in August, will operate with BEA and IBM's application servers.
BEA's release of the portal software may be more down to its desire to lock-in its current application server customers, said Lock.
"BEA are a single horse company. They may be worried about rivals eating away at their customer base.
"For BEA's application server customers, they should keep their investments under review, and consider what alternatives exist. While it may not be an option to replace their infrastructure yet, they need to consider whether it will be appropriate in the future," said Lock.
BEA has seen its leadership in the application server market eroded by competitors such as IBM.
It may well by eyeing-up the potentially lucrative portals market as a way to diversify. Analyst firm IDC has predicted the portal market will be worth $3.1bn by 2006.
The key promise that portal vendors are making is to provide meaningful functionality to business users without requiring a "drastic change in skill sets within the IT departments", said Brian McDonough, research manager for IDC.
It is a message that BEA clearly takes seriously. "We have incorporated a number of tools that make it easier and quicker to build enterprise-class portals," said Doyle.
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