A Social (Software) Handshake: BEA, Meet Web 2.0; Web 2.0, Meet BEA …

April 9, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Posted in BEA, collaboration, knowledge management, portals, social software, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

internetnews.com posted an article about BEA’s foray into wiki building, project workspaces, knowledge directory, search, and social networking (“The O’Reilly Factor: BEA Ushers in Web 2.0 Products“). I attended a BEA analyst summit and got a chance to see where they are going with this and came away impressed at the effort, but unsure if there’s enough there to steal a significant chunk of market share rather than just keeping their existing customers happy.

First, a quick summary of what they showed. There are 3 products they added to the AquaLogic line: Pages, Ensemble, and Pathways. For those of you who have been following BEA’s efforts for a while, these were codenamed builder, runner, and graffiti. These will be released in the second half of 2007. Other related existing technologies include AquaLogic Interaction Collaboration, AquaLogic Interaction (the old Plumtree portal), and WebLogic Portal.

  • Pages is kind of a wiki builder or blog builder. That’s a key distinction – rather than being a blog or wiki, Pages is a tool to help people build wiki or blog-enabled applications.
  • Ensemble is a composite application / mashup tool
  • Pathways is BEA’s foray into activity analytics, social tagging/bookmarking, search, and people/expertise location.

First impressions? I am impressed with the scope of what BEA has done, particularly since it was created in house and not just by purchasing one of the myriads of small vendors in these spaces. By doing so, the products are more unique and more tied to BEA’s value prop. For example, providing tools to help developers create high-end wikis with data connections and application functionality extends BEA’s target market into the social software space.

BEA certainly has challenges ahead of it though. To start with, while organizations may mess with individual technologies at a grass roots level, ultimately they are tied into a platform decision. I don’t expect organizations to adopt a new platform or throw out their old one due to any one feature of course. What you could see is a slew of connected features and a roadmap cause an organization to adopt a platform for an isolated use case (a new partner site for example) or shift internal marketshare for a company with multiple platforms.

So if the other platforms were standing still there could be a shift towards BEA due to their overall social software direction. But they aren’t. IBM came out swinging at Lotusphere with Quickr and Connections. Microsoft has attracted significant attention with SharePoint (WSS and MOSS). Neither address wikis or blogs that well, but templates will improve. BEA may have eeked out a lead on actual released features, but leapfrogging will continue.

I also want to mention that I had a nomenclature issue that I share with much of the hype around empowering the user and the Time magazine person of the year being “you”. BEA stated a position that there is a movement from group-centric to user-centric software. Certainly users are becoming more empowered as they post their lives on YouTube, their every moment on twitter, and their personal personas on Facebook. But from an enterprise point of view personalization already targeted personal views of information. And while the new technologies help end users post up information, the real key to all this is community-centric software. Static intranets often had hardcoded groups based on organizational heirarchy. Breaking down heirarchy and uncovering the real social networks that information workers live in, in all their fluid, tacit, and inter-related forms, is where the real value is. It’s not wrong to say things are moving from group to user-centric computing – it’s just missing the next step of the metamorphasis.

I will be talking more to BEA soon to dig deeper than I could there, and will post up any additional details I find.


1 Comment »

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  1. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely loved every little
    bit of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

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