The Abstract Truth

T3Server, Tengah, BEA WLS, and now: Oracle WebLogic

Posted by rbpasker on June 12, 2008

According to this article, it looks like the B E and A have finally been purged from WebLogic.

BEA did everything in its power to conceal the fact that none of its other revenue-generating products ever amounted to much of anything.

With this widely expected move crowning WebLogic Application Server as Oracle’s go-forward appserver product, while “continuing to support” (shorthand for “silently kill”; see “PeopleSoft” and “Seibel”) every other revenue-generating product, Oracle tells us what we already knew from its last 8 years of near-stagnant revenue numbers : BEA couldn’t develop a product from scratch to save its life (literally).

That is not to say anything negative whatsoever about any of the individuals people who worked on the rest of the products: BEA had many talented engineers, but the culture was so political and full of fear, that everyone was always more worried about their next paycheck and pleasing the powers that be, rather than striving to build the best thing they could. And many BEA executives I knew who were talented and well connected in the organization were eventually jettisoned because of eventual clashes inside the power structure, only to be replaced by plodders. That’s no way to run a company.

The other non-surprise in the article is that Oracle is keeping JRockit. What an awesome piece of technology. The open secret about JRockit is that BEA barely paid anything it, either in acquisition costs (“BEA Acquires Appeal Virtual Machines”) or in ongoing development. Think about it: For a company that wouldn’t budge an inch on its $10K/CPU app server licenses, JRockit doesn’t generate a single cent in direct revenue. How did that happen? Intel paid for it. Lock. Stock. And Barrel.

Intel (an investor in WebLogic, Inc.) was concerned that Sun would poorly support Java on x86 architectures in favor of Sun’s own SPARC, so they funded BEA’s acquisition and ongoing development of a superlative Java platform for Intel hardware. Besides the fact that it was free to BEA, the other pieces of information crucial to understanding the JRockit’s success inside the company are: unlike most of the other products, it didn’t have any internal competition; it was located in Stockholm, Sweden, far away from the trenches in San Jose; and it has fantastically talented engineers and management. Certainly JRockit was crucial to the ongoing success of BEA’s Java “own the whole stack” strategy, but would BEA, who famously would only acquire companies that could be accretive within a year of acquisition, have continued to sink tens of millions of dollars per year into a non-revenue generating product?

At one point in time (before I turned 40 and started balding!), I had shoulder length hair. At the time of the acquisition, I told my colleagues that I would shave my head when “BEA Systems” changed its name to “WebLogic.” I guess that was pretty arrogant, but the point was that WebLogic would become the most important brand in BEA’s toolbox, and that nobody would remember its up-until-then flagship product “Tuxedo” or its CORBA-based successor “M3” (now called “Weblogic Enterprise”).

I don’t think there’s much chance that Oracle, one of the strongest brands in the technology world, will change its name to WebLogic, but there’s little likelihood that the product will continue on as “BEA WebLogic.”

2 Responses to “T3Server, Tengah, BEA WLS, and now: Oracle WebLogic”

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