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BEA Predicts "New World Order" Based On Middleware

BEA Introduces New Telecommunications Services - Voice, Data, and Wireless

According to BEA's CTO, Mark Carges, the telecommunications industry needs new middleware to help it provide customers with the mix of voice, data, and wireless services they want. The comments were made at a press conference in San Francisco yesterday, as BEA unveiled its SIP Server for telecommunications companies.

According to Carges, Java application servers are not enough to helps telecommunications companies run their back-office billing systems. According to him, new application servers are needed to administer the latest, customer-facing applications and deliver new services such as voice over Internet Protocol and instant messaging over IP.

"The line is blurring between the application server and the telecommunications server," Carges said. BEA announced its WebLogic Session Initiation Protocol Server or SIP Server for telecommunications companies, an industry segment where BEA already enjoys a strong market presence.

The SIP Server will implement a set of protocols that are now standard in the telecommunications industry, including both SIP and VOIP. SIP is unlike switching protocols in that it can respond to varied software "events" and initiate a communications connection based on voice, video, instant messaging, images, or some other means of expression.

Another departure from point-to-point switching for a telephone system based on copper wires, new services will be based on the Internet and may go out to many different devices, from personal computers to BlackBerry hand-held devices to cell phones. The content of a service may be the same for different users, but it will have to be sent in different formats to match the user's device, explained Benjamin Renaud, BEA's senior director of telecommunications products.

In addition to the SIP Server, which is currently available, BEA announced the WebLogic Network Gatekeeper to be released later this spring. The Gatekeeper will allow a service provider to set and enforce policies that control access to and govern sets of services. It also would ensure quality of service.

Rob Rich, Yankee Group telecommunications analyst, predicted that competition will emerge as other vendors gear their Java application servers to the communications marketplace.

Alfred Chuang, CEO of BEA Systems, predicted that the era of telecommunications companies engaging in a continuous price war "and killing each other off is over." A new set of services will come from surviving companies who try to match up multiple customer needs with packages tailored to them.

"A new world order is emerging and the whole thing is running on a software platform," Chuang said at the press conference. The SIP Server, Network Gatekeeper, and future BEA products will compose the BEA WebLogic Communications Platform. They will all be built around the WebLogic Application Server, which has been a basic building block of enterprise software, along with competing products from IBM, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems.


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