BEA to Add Web 2.0 Tools to SOA Platform

BEA Systems calls it the knowledge-worker gap: that rift between the ad hoc, spontaneous collaboration in which most of these kinds of workers regularly engage and the technologies that support those activities.

"These people play an enormously important role in most large companies," says Ajay Gandhi, director of product marketing in BEA's business interaction division. "And yet, they're still using the same tools--email and spreadsheets--that they've been using for 10 or 15 years."

The San Jose, Calif.-based enterprise infrastructure company plans to bridge that gap with three new tools based on Web 2.0 inspired technologies and paradigms. Code-named "Project Graffiti," "Project Builder," and "Project Runner," they're based largely on tech acquired with BEA’s recent purchase of portal provider Plumtree Software and business process management vendor Fuego. Though BEA isn't planning to release the tools trio until the first half of 2007, the company gave attendees at last week's Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco a sneak peek.

Project Builder will blend enterprise application wiki concepts with enterprise portal and service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities to help knowledge workers build collaborative Web app that meet "situational" business needs, Gandhi tells ADT. The tool will provide a library page of components, including a form-builder, a rich-text editor, image and layout tools, page flows, and data connectors. Users will be able to create components that connect directly to enterprise data and define richer and more usable views of that data within new Web applications.

Builder is a collaborative tool, Gandhi says, designed to support multiple participants and versioning of the apps made with it as they evolve over time. "Project Builder is in some ways a new workplace for knowledge workers," he says. "

Graffiti takes the notion of social bookmarks or tagging in Web apps such as Flickr or de.lic.ious, and brings it into the corporate knowledge management paradigm. It's a community search product that takes documents and other content stored in corporate repositories with pre-defined taxonomies and augments them with user-generated taxonomies. It also tracks users' searches and other activities to provide "implicit tracking." "If you, a salesperson, you look up a document and find it useful, Graffiti will provide a context for that document that allows other sales reps to search for documents their colleagues found useful," Gandhi explains.

While Builder and Graffiti are end-user facing, Runner provides more of an infrastructure layer that sits beneath those tools to deliver governance, analytics, security, and usage services.

"Runner solves that enterprise question of, when I'm building a mashup, how do I know I'm legal here?" Gandhi says. "How do I handle going across a firewall, grabbing a service, and then putting a mashup in the enterprise? How do I plug into my existing IT infrastructure with this stuff? This is the IT-centric and developer-centric tool that creates the necessary underlying infrastructure and services."

All three tools fall under BEA's SOA 360 Degrees platform initiative, which was announced last month at the company's BEAWorld 2006 conference. SOA 360 encompasses BEA's plan to deliver a unified SOA platform that spans all three of the company's product families: AquaLogic, WebLogic, and Tuxedo, as well as the company's newest product initiative, BEA Workspace 360 degrees.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].