Monday, February 28, 2005

BEA expected to join Eclipse effort

BEA expected to join Eclipse effort
In a sign of continued realignment in software tools, BEA Systems is slated to formally join the Eclipse effort, industry sources said.

The news is expected to come at EclipseCon 2005 in the US. BEA couldn't be reached for comment.

BEA has been something of a holdout, so far refusing to join IBM, Borland, Red Hat and other companies that back what they call Eclipse's "open platform for tool integration".

IBM created the Eclipse framework in 2001 and three years later spun it off into the Eclipse Foundation, an open-source community.

Every effort since then has been made to keep the group from seeming like an IBM-led effort. The framework has won plaudits even from Microsoft development gurus.

One industry observer said BEA's alliance with Sun Microsystems, another Eclipse holdout, has fractured. Last fall, BEA and IBM defected from a Sun-led push to entrench the Java Business Integration specification. BEA and IBM -- bitter rivals in Web application servers -- instead threw their weight behind the Business Process Execution Language specification.

Some solution providers said BEA's move makes sense, given the Java-centric focus it shares with most of the other Eclipse members. Last year, BEA appeared to move closer to Eclipse with its Project Beehive effort.

"This is kind of a natural fit, another coalition of ABM -- Anybody But Microsoft -- and Anybody But Sun," said Richard Warren, chief solutions architect at MicroLink, a US-based solution provider.

BEA has been moving away from the Sun-led Java Community Process (JCP) for some time, said Shawn Willett, an analyst at research firm Current Analysis. "They're bowing to the inevitable. Eclipse is probably the most powerful standards group for developing tool interfaces," Willett said. "They realise they can't set standards on their own."

It was unclear which membership tier BEA would achieve, but given the company's prominence in application servers, it likely would attain one of the higher "strategic" levels, said one source.

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