BEA to Provide ''Pre-Emptive Support''

I know it's part of the product-launch hype, but it's still refreshing to hear a software vendor—heck, any vendor—lead its pitch with talk about taking responsibility for the performance of its products.

''Our hardware industry brethren are providing higher reliability,'' BEA System's senior director of marketing Todd Chipman told me last week. ''Unfortunately, the software industry hasn't stepped up and taken the responsibility for improving their system uptime. What you're seeing here is a software vendor saying, we're going to take responsibility, through technology, and we are going to improve your system uptime.''

By ''here'' he meant BEA's new Guardian Support Service, which the San Jose, CA-based enterprise infrastructure company unveiled today at its annual BEAWorld user conference, underway this week in San Francisco. Chipman characterized BEA Guardian as a ''paradigm-changing industry first.''

'This is a watershed moment in the industry,'' he said, 'because we're taking the traditional break-fix model and creating a paradigm shift to a pre-emptive model.'

Very hypey, but maybe not far off the mark.

Guardian is an automated maintenance tool designed to streamline deployments and day-to-day operations. It consists of lightweight agent software that scans, analyzes, and diagnoses domains for potential problems, and a console that alerts users to those problems and recommends and finds the right updates and maintenance packs. The idea, of course, is that finding and correcting problems before they occur heads off unplanned downtime.

Guardian relies on a library of patterns developed from a community of engineering knowledge and industry-wide support environments that describe a set of parameters, thresholds, settings, coding practices, and-or symptoms and their interdependencies. BEA calls them ''Signature Patterns.''

BEA clearly thinks it has a market-altering winner on its hands. The company has filed for a patent on the Guardian technology to, as Chipman put it, ''keep our competitors at bay.''

''We really do see this changing the industry,'' he said. ''I can see, for instance, pre-emptive support becoming a checkbox item in any RFP. I can see analysts actually looking at pre-emptive support as mandatory if you do business with a software vendor. We're looking at a technology that is raising the bar of traditional support.''

Interestingly, the changes BEA envisions aren't just external.

'We're not just advocating a monumental change in how the customer interfaces with support; we're redefining the jobs of support at BEA,'' Chipman said. ''No more support engineers standing by the phone, ready to answer a question; it's going to be about that support engineer writing Signature Patterns that enable our customers to prevent known conditions in the first place.''

BEA plans to offer Guardian as a premium support option for WebLogic and select AquaLogic products. The company says it will add the Guardian service at no additional cost to users' existing support and maintenance contracts beginning in December.

During his conference keynote opener, BEA chairman and CEO Alfred Chuang debuted BEA's SOA 360 platform, which gathers the company's three product families—AquaLogic, WebLogic, and Tuxedo—into a single environment. All three product families are built on BEA's native SOA microServices Architecture, which is designed to provide low-level services, including the presentation of information from databases, to a number of applications. And they're supported by the company's new collaborative tooling environment, the BEA Workspace 360 application lifecycle suite.

''[BEA SOA 360] brings the business analyst, enterprise architect, service developer, and IT operations people to the same table,' Chuang said.

Other announcements from BEAWorld:

- BEA is entering into an OEM partnership with StrikeIron (http://www.strikeiron.com/) to bring data to the front end for business analysts.

- The company released the AquaLogic Data Services Platform (ALDSP) 2.5. ALDSP 2.5 is designed to provide a virtual, unified view of data, regardless of its type or location within the enterprise. It's now natively bilingual, fluent in both XQuery and SQL.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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