Can Oracle Convert BEA’s Customers?

May 16, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Posted in BEA, Oracle, portals | Leave a comment

This is the first of several posts I’ll be doing about the BEA Participate conference that happened this week. For my first subject, I’ll focus on the biggest issue for me this week: What light does this conference shed on how BEA and Oracle will mix?

This was a strange time for a BEA conference, coming on the 2 week anniversary of the closing of their acquisition by Oracle. There weren’t a lot of balloons or cake to celebrate the acquisition – it was very quiet (as required by law and quarterly reporting deadlines). For example, Mark Carges (EVP Products and GM, BEA) kicked things off and didn’t quite seem up to referring to BEA and Oracle as “we” yet. There was simply a dry reference at the beginning to “Our new owners, who you will meet later”. After the one quick reference, the rest of the presentation was BEA business-as-usual.

The second presenter was indeed “the new owners” in the form of Hasan Rizvi, VP of Fusion middleware at Oracle. He showed a chart of all their middleware products and saying (I’m paraphrasing here) they are “best of breed, but of course BEA also has best of breed products in all these categories so that’s why this is such a good combination”. He said they will be doing “Welcome BEA Customers” events at 25 cities in the US/Canada and 25 in EMEA.

He introduced the BEA crowd to Oracle Fusion middleware and their tools. The crowd didn’t seem very partisan, was attentive and soaked in the information. From my 7 years (on and off) of going to BEA conferences I can say that, like past BEA conferences, the vibe is one of a mature, techie environment. While JavaOne may have techies lounging on beanbags, playing videogames, and eating kiddie snacks while challenging each other to coding duels, the BEA conference attendees are mature programmers, in the second or third decade of their careers, confident in their abilities, who tend to understand the value of well architected systems. They like BEA although they don’t need expensively produced videos making fun of their competition and they don’t paint their hair in the company colors (both of which I’ve seen at other vendor conferences).

It’s appropriate that the Oracle and BEA colors are within a few Pantone shades of the same red since the company colors don’t represent a religious issue like it would be in some other acquisitions (the blue and purple devotees of Microsoft and Yahoo! wouldn’t have mixed as easily). However, the BEA audience is technically adept and will require practical reasons and detailed roadmaps if they are going to buy into new Oracle+BEA solutions rather than shifting their development platforms, application server, portal, and BPM to IBM or open source. I can’t wait to see these roadmaps, particularly in my area of portals, since there are many overlaps that will require sacrifices to resolve. The sacrifices will take the form of placing some products and customers on the sacrificial altar or placing profits on the alter due to the long-term inefficiencies of maintaining redundant products.

And, just to prove that in the end some people always stay loyal, I counted about 300 people in the packed “What’s new with AquaLogic User Interaction” session. When the announcer asked “how many of you still call ALUI Plumtree?” about 75% of the audience raised their hands.

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