Long known as a Java shop, BEA Systems Inc. this week continued its pushed into service-oriented architecture enablement by cozying up to the most unlikely technology vendors … Microsoft.
The release of BEA's AquaLogic Data Services Platform 2.1 includes native support for Microsoft's ADO.NET data access interface, allowing services developers to leverage both .NET and Java.
"It's a unique step for us to support one of their standards," said Naveen Gupta, director of product management for the data services platform. "It's a new area of focus for us and it's important for AquaLogic, which is our Web services platform, to make sure our Web services interoperate with their Web services. We have to think broader than just Java."
Data is becoming an increasingly large part of the SOA movement, with users seeking to service-enable their data and vendors racing to offer tools to perform that function. Gupta noted that "most service level agreement problems have to do with data access."
Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director for the Burton Group, said that BEA has done an admirable of remaking itself over the past year with the dawn of its AquaLogic brand, which offers a composite development platform focused on interoperability.
"When you're building a service-oriented architecture you have to work on the assumption that it's going to be heterogeneous," Manes said. "So if you really want to start enabling a tighter relationship with .NET, then it makes sense to natively support ADO.NET."
Gupta believes achieving Java/.NET harmony at the data tier is a good way to enable that sort of heterogeneity.
"In any application development, 70% of the time goes into the data access layer," he said. "Where do I get data from? How do I update it? A typical enterprise winds up having thousands of data sources. A simple application can have at least 14, 15 data sources."
The AquaLogic platform will now be access ADO, short for ActiveX Data Objects, and update the data at the point of its original source. Changes will be logged as well, creating audit trails – something Gupta suggested will have particular value in the highly regulated financial services industry and in government.
While this may be one of the first Microsoft standards BEA has added support for, Manes noted that the company has been inching toward the Microsoft universe for months now.
First it acquired portal vendor Plumtree Software Inc. last August. Plumtree, Manes pointed out, was often deployed in Microsoft ASP.NET settings and it brought a great deal of .NET know-how under the BEA umbrella.
Earlier this month BEA bought up business process management vendor Fuego Inc., which also played heavily in .NET environments.
"BEA's got more and more stuff related to Microsoft these days," Manes said. "That's what it has to do if it really wants to make AquaLogic stand out as a Web services platform."