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BEA expands SOA consulting practice in IBM's wake

BEA broadens its SOA consulting practice and announces a Web-based SOA assessment tool, shortly after IBM Global Services unveils its new SOA practice.

BEA today announced the expansion of its SOA consulting and educational practice, along with a new web-based tool that allows companies to determine how 'ready' they are to pursue a SOA strategy.

BEA's announcement comes on the heels of IBM Global Services (IGS) announcing their new Service Oriented Modeling and Architecture (SOMA), a consulting practice aimed to help customers implement service-oriented architectures.

"IBM's SOMA offering is focused on their skills and experience with SOA. BEA has typically been a product company; for them, services has been an afterthought.," said Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, of Waltham, Mass.

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The "BEA Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Readiness Self-Assessment" tool quantitatively measures and benchmarks a company's 'baseline' for pursuing SOA as its IT strategy and provides IT maturity comparisons against similar companies, according to the announcement.

Seasoned professional services firms such as IBM Global Services have been training architects en masse in the craft of SOA. BEA however, is seen by some as a relatively inexperienced player in the SOA training and consulting space.

"BEA is a relative neophyte in delivering professional services-based solutions for things as complex as SOA, and clearly they are trying to compete with the likes of IBM," Schmelzer said.

BEA's expanded SOA consulting and education practice will help customers on their long-term SOA plans and strategy, while implementing projects iteratively. The service offerings will SOA-enable customers through different stages of their initiative, from exploration to planning, to design and implementation, according to the announcement.

"On the face of it, it's great that BEA finally realizes that SOA isn't a purely technology problem. You can't simply provide technology and hope to solve companies' problems, since SOA can't be delivered solely by products or configuration wizards," Schmelzer said.

"Companies are struggling with figuring out exactly how to apply and implement technologies to meet their SOA needs, and it's clear that professional services and consulting is where much of the emphasis and revenue will be for SOA in 2005," Schmelzer said.

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