BEA Looks to HP to Fight IBM

BEA Wednesday redoubled its efforts to stave off rival IBM by partnering with Hewlett-Packard.

The San Jose, Calif.-based application software vendor said its BEA WebLogic Server is now available on HP AlphaServer systems running HP OpenVMS and HP ProLiant servers running Linux. The company said it expects the server software to run on HP NonStop servers in June.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP also launched a formal support relationship with BEA that lets customers running BEA WebLogic Server on HP platforms get support from either HP or BEA.

“We have seen a shift over the past two years from application development to application integration, a trend that brings tremendous complexity and cost,” said HP vice president Mark Hudson. “We are working with BEA to provide interoperable and scalable environments, fundamental for building an adaptive enterprise, that enable customers to easily and cost-effectively move to an integrated environment.”

The two companies have been working together for over five years in the areas of application infrastructure and integration, but today’s announcement is the most overt attempt at retaking the lead away from IBM in the custom Java application server software space.

According to research from Gartner Dataquest, IBM is currently the market leader with 37 percent in 2002. BEA was the previous Java app server software king with 34 percent market share in 2001, but has since slipped to the No.2 spot with 29 percent last year.

The move also brings into question BEA’s longtime partnership with Sun Microsystems. While BEA top brass deny any attempt at abandoning Sun, CEO Alfred Chuang has been vocal in the past about Sun’s Project Orion initiative and the company’s quarterly upgrade structure.

Now with HP by its side, BEA says it can offer more choices including a migration path along the Intel Itanium road.

Case in point is HP’s support of BEA systems running on HP OpenVMS. HP said WebLogic customers can still run applications on older systems and develop new ones through J2EE functions. But, the computer and printer maker says because both it and BEA have a great relationship with Intel, that ultimately, customers will be able to move their applications to the Itanium platform.

As the other side of the story is service, BEA and HP say they’ve created a “fast call transfer and problem isolation agreement to resolve joint customer support requests.”

For customers running BEA WLS on the HP NonStop platform, the two companies said they would work through standard call management processes to assist interoperability concerns on behalf of joint customers. Support for HP servers running HP-UX, OpenVMS, Windows, Tru-64 UNIX and Linux are planned to be available by the end of the summer.

“BEA and HP offer a wide choice of high-performing, industry-standard platforms with the technical expertise to deliver integrated solutions that increase customer productivity and responsiveness while providing uncompromising value and business agility,” BEA vice president John Gray said in a statement.