Sun, BEA Flex Web Services Muscles

In a sign of ever-increasing cooperative competition, Sun Microsystems and BEA Systems Monday paired up to strengthen their Web services offerings for the enterprise.

Santa Clara’s Sun and San Jose’s BEA will distribute an evaluation version of BEA WebLogic Server 7.0 with the Solaris 9 Operating Environment System Administrator’s Kit to increase the choices customers have for J2EE application servers and to provide them with a trial license of BEA WebLogic Server 7.0.

BEA said it will offer a trial license, good for six months, with each BEA WebLogic Server 7.0 distributed via the Solaris 9 System Adminstrator’s Kit when it is released in January 2003. Solaris 9 is a key piece of the Sun ONE software portfolio designed to allow for the creation and delivery of Java Web services. The firms posited the pact as a technology J2EE alignment, no doubt against the likes of IBM and its WebSphere platform.

“This initiative strengthens our relationship and underscores our commitment to customers to increase choice and reduce cost and time to deployment,” said Stuart Wells, senior vice president, Sun Microsystems Market Development Organization.

What is interesting here, is that Sun had recently said it would steal market share from BEA, particularly because it disagrees with BEA’s philosophy of selling a Java-based application server as a separate product from the OS. Analysts looked at the deal as Sun’s attempt to maximize performance for its Solaris 9 OS.

BEA, who inked a similar play in September with HP, has been busy of late concocting deals with development firms to garner more market share and developer mind share. Earlier this month, the application server specialist teamed with ComponentSource, a major community for reusable software components, to increase Java developer productivity by expanding the range of third-party components and tools available on the market.

The new marketplaces, called the BEA WebLogic Galleries, are geared for the BEA WebLogic Platform and the BEA WebLogic Workshop development framework. The Galleries feature tools and reusable components, including those for Web services from Borland, F5 Networks, Infragistics, and TogetherSoft. BEA is trying to work its own wiles on developers with its WebLogic Workshop, but faces tough competition from the IBM-lead Eclipse project.