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Loosely Coupled weblog

Thursday, July 29, 2004

BEA weighed buying Confluent

BEA was one of four companies that looked at acquiring Confluent Software earlier this year, we reveal in our latest feature article, BEA weighed web services buy.

Loosely Coupled has a track record of breaking exclusive news about merger activity among SOA vendors. Last summer we were first to publish the news that Computer Associates had bought Adjoin Solutions (see Top vendors buy into SOA management). So you can take it as read that we've checked out this story with sources who are in a position to know. No doubt further details will emerge in the coming days.

The revelations come at an interesting juncture for BEA, which many observers feel has lost its way lately. Jeff Schneider penned A Note on BEA on Monday listing the warning signs and missed opportunities that he has been noticing, and makes the point that it may be too late to put things right with acquisitions:

"Could BEA acquire enough companies to be considered a 'service oriented infrastructure' company? Maybe — but the market is up and the web service startups are making sales which will substantially increase their valuations. This makes it much tougher to stomach the acquisitions. Let's say they pull it off. Is it a good move? I'm not sure. Mostly, I think it just keeps them around until the next wave of mergers takes place."

Much of the discussion of BEA has been prompted by last week's departure of chief architect Adam Bosworth for Google. I had it in mind to write a posting on Monday entitled "Why Google hired Bosworth," but I ran out of time to do it. I had been intrigued by Bosworth's comment in his parting email to BEA staff that he had found it unable to resist "the siren's song of consumer services," particularly since the phrase "consumer services" has a dual meaning to those of us who live and breathe service-oriented architectures.

I suspect his work at Google will involve both those meanings. It will target individual users (ie the consumer market, although don't imagine that has no crossover into the business world — in their private lives, CEOs are consumers too, and if they see a business use for what they use as consumers they'll be asking CIOs why they can't have it at work). At the same time, it will be concerned with service consumption, (ie the receiving end of the provider-consumer relationship in a service architecture). Given Bosworth's background I would expect his work to have something to do with creating tools that enable ordinary users to assemble services. What might that achieve? I'd like to answer by quoting from an Information Week interview with Amazon's CTO Al Vermeulen published on Monday, Amazon CTO: 'We've Just Scratched The Surface'. In it, he talks about the effects of making Amazon's services available to developers via an API:

"People have used the functionally to do things that we wouldn't have anticipated ... If you look around the Web right now, there's an enormous amount of information and interesting [processes] that are out there. If it was all exposed via web services so that developers could integrate that stuff together, people would do incredible things with it."

Now imagine how much more could be achieved if you empowered not just developers but the great mass of non-technical users. Imagine what creativity would be unleashed! I have a hunch that's what Adam Bosworth has in mind.

But how will that capability be delivered? The other angle here continues the recent discussions in this blog of Rich clients, network wealth, Why Yahoo! bought Oddpost and Connecting with Koranteng. Unfortunately, I don't have time now to speculate on why Google hired Bosworth. But if I did, I would certainly include some quotes from Dare Obasanjo's weekend posting, What is Google Building?.

posted by Phil Wainewright 1:54 PM (GMT) | comments | link

Assembling on-demand services to automate business, commerce, and the sharing of knowledge

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