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BEA membership could eclipse .NET

Jack Loftus, News Writer

Analysts say that BEA Systems' decision to join the Eclipse open source foundation last week will bolster the organization - which already includes industry giants like IBM and SAP - and give additional strength to the Java community.

BEA Systems Inc. has joined the Eclipse Foundation as a "strategic developer" and will have seats on the foundation's board, according to Peter Humphrey, BEA senior product manager.

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Pierre Fricke, an analyst with Livingston, New Jersey-based IDEAS International Inc., said BEA's move is good news for both BEA and the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) community at large.

Fricke said that .NET already has a large and focused ecosystem established in the marketplace, but the clout provided by BEA's Eclipse membership could bring the same kind of economy and scale to the J2EE community.

"As Eclipse is becoming the standard platform for the J2EE platforms, it makes it easier to keep up with and compete with Visual Studio .NET," the analyst said.

Strengthening the Java community is precisely the plan at BEA, which has built a stable following of Java developers over the past year under its Dev2Dev developer network. The network currently has over one million members, Humphrey said, and has been involved with industry-wide Java and Web services specifications.

Joining Eclipse as a development partner is not the first time BEA has had a role at Eclipse, Humphrey said. One year ago BEA made one of its first forays into open source development with the Beehive project, which percolated within Eclipse.

Beehive provides tools to build Java server applications using pre-built software components, Humphrey said.

Until now, BEA had resisted calls to join Eclipse because of a view that IBM's initial sponsorship of the project could mean undue influence for Big Blue. However, Humphrey said that over the past year major fronts in technology, community and maturity developed within Eclipse that allowed BEA to join up.

"A year ago they did become an independent organization [from IBM] … it has reached critical mass and we believe it is the most effective way to deliver the BEA platform capabilities to customers, ISVs and the community in general," Humphrey said.

Jim Rivera, director of technology at BEA, explained that both BEA and Eclipse had become focused communities that complement one another in portal technology, J2EE, Java and service enablement.

Eclipse's "newsgroups and peer-to-peer networking is really where a large part of its value comes from. To combine the BEA Dev2Dev and Eclipse communities together provides a cross-pollination of ideas," he said. "The goals of these two communities are very complementary."


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