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BEA eWorld 2002 Update

BEA eWorld 2002 Update

The BEA eWorld conference was, in many ways, the same as every other conference I've attended. In other ways, it was quite different. The conference was held in the San Diego Convention Center, California, February 23-27, 2002. When I arrived, the hotel manager asked if I'd take a smoking room. "No," I replied. "What's changed?" I thought. But hey, this was a subtle sign that the conference was packed (actually, BEA eWorld recorded over 2000 attendees)!

The BEA eWorld conference had all the classics: t-shirts, conference bags, morning and afternoon keynotes from sponsors and BEA visionaries, morning and afternoon sessions that were both business and technical in nature, and the exhibit hall where more than 114 vendors touted their wares to interested and freeloading bystanders. Freeloaders, you know who you are! For those of you who could not attend or who just want to recall a great time, I've summarized the conference news, highlights, and information here just for you.

Even after the dot-com crash, it's still cool to be on the edge of technology. I feel this way when working with BEA products. At the opening keynote, I felt it as well. On Monday morning, attendees flooded like ants into the hall amidst flashes from cameras, and techno music for the keynote address from the CEO of BEA, Alfred Chuang. Alfred made his appearance dressed in leather and riding an Italian chopper onto the stage ­ quite an entrance!

After dismounting and losing the leather, Alfred announced the release of BEA WebLogic 7.0, BEA WebLogic Platform, and BEA WebLogic Workshop (formerly code-named "Cajun"), along with ECperf results ranking WebLogic 47% faster than the next competitor, and, among other things, the acquisition of a Swedish company for it's Intel-specific JVM, JRockit. I must admit, it was interesting news.

The sessions this year were broad-ranging and classified into the following categories: business, general, and two levels of technical. Business sessions were obviously more focused on ROI and other management-related topics. Topics that all audiences might be interested in, such as the new BEA WebLogic Platform features, were categorized as general. The technical sessions were divided into tiers to help people attend sessions that were appropriate for their level of experience with Java and BEA products. This helped keep the J2EE architects out of the "EJB 101" sessions and vice versa.

What was exciting to see this year was more emphasis on Web services rather than just advanced features of J2EE and how WebLogic implements them. And, since the focus of BEA is now "simplification" of the J2EE environment to allow new developers to adopt BEA technology more quickly and easily, there were many sessions on the BEA WebLogic Workshop product.

Exhibit Hall
The exhibit hall boasted over a hundred vendors, many of which I classified into the following categories: monitoring and/or performance products from companies like Sitraka and Resonate; content management and portal solutions from BEA (of course); divine, Documentum, FatWire, Interwoven, and Mongoose Technology; security products from veterans like RSA Security and Netegrity; and vendors such as AltoWeb, WakeSoft, Air2Web, and KANA that build on top of WebLogic.

How have the exhibitors changed from just a year ago? BEA and J2EE are maturing. You can see it in the types of vendors exhibiting at BEA eWorld 2002. Not too long ago, a battle for the application server market waged. Now, only a few stand strong, and companies like Silverstream and Persistence Software have changed their core focus from application servers to technology that integrates with BEA at traditional WebLogic soft spots like development tools and caching.

Also, the maturing of BEA and J2EE is evident in the number of products built on top of WebLogic, and in the number of vendors offering products for performance testing, monitoring, and security. In the past, who cared about security when you were still struggling to get your EJB deployed! There was nothing to load test and nothing to monitor. This is no longer the case. Applications are moving from the development stage to testing and production stages and there is a great need for these kinds of products.

I had a chance to interview numerous companies exhibiting at the conference. Out of about 20 interviews, 8 or more were performance testing or monitoring vendors. As application servers consolidate, I'm sure these vendors will too. Until then, they're individually filling a much needed role in the life cycle of application development and deployment.

Overall, kudos to BEA for a great show! I look forward to attending next year in Orlando, Florida. If it's anything like this year's show, I recommend you go as well.

More Stories By Jason Westra

Jason Westra is the CTO of Verge Technologies Group, Inc. (www.vergecorp.com). Verge is a Boulder, CO based firm specializing in eBusiness solutions with Enterprise JavaBeans.

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