(...) by late-2006 I felt BEA was losing its way. The initial AquaLogic push was good, but it spread our engineering resources thin. BEA's SOA vision, which started well, became something of an empty marketing slogan, like how '.NET' was destroyed within Microsoft.
(...) One could see Oracle's acquisition as the culmination of BEA's failure to emerge from the dot-com bubble burst. I don't entirely buy it -- Alfred managed to grow the company to $1.5b from $950m in 2001 when Coleman, then CEO, left. That's quite an accomplishment, if short of expectations. BEA was still performing, people were still buying its products, and a lot of the b.s. about JBoss or other competitors eating its lunch are rather exaggerated, in my opinion. I claim no real insider information, and am speaking for myself when I say, there is one primary, clear, reason for BEA's failure, in my opinion, and anyone "on the ground" in the company would likely agree with it: after the early-2000's recession, finance & legal -- the bean counters -- became the kings of the company. In other words, I believe BEA's wounds were self-inflicted.
Once the goal ceased being innovation & great software, it was about a pristine balance sheet, milking the support organization, and onerous following of extremely conservative accounting guidelines. There were still leaders -- Alfred Chuang still had fire in him, some product executives like Guy Churchward were bright spots, Paul Patrick in the architecture organization was also a great source of ideas (but given power far too late). Many in the sales organization knew how to make customers feel valued, and were rewarded righly. But all of them were beholden to the bean counters. Oh yeah, and there was an options scandal that one hoped would shake the power of the finance department. (It didn't.)
(...) WebLogic Server continues to be, in my opinion, the gold standard of J2EE application servers (and I've used most of them). Yet it's maddening that something as important as their management console -- arguably the defining feature of the product vs. open source alternatives! -- became dog slow. WebLogic Workshop was productive for specific products but made the transition to Eclipse years later than it should have. AquaLogic Service Bus was a visionary product, and has some great understated features for validating the dependencies amount service artifacts. But it's lack of support for RESTful services is also maddening, considering how little work would need to be done (for starters, just enable PUT and DELETE, folks!). AquaLogic DSP was another visionary product, but way too programmer-centric in a world where programmers don't give a crap about data. They needed to target the DBA or the RESTful crowd, but the small & dedicated team was too busy trying to improve the core engine with the resources they had. BEA WebLogic Integration v8.1 SP2+ was the swiss army knife of integration tools, and probably the best game in town circa 2003-2006. WLI could smoke Oracle BPEL on performance, usability, and complex transformations. But v9 was disastrous. WebLogic Portal had one of the most ambitious set of goals, and an extraordinarily bright team. But they too were plagued with quality issues, arguably due to a lack of bandwidth, and a need to compete with Plumtree internally. The Plumtree team got off to a great start with the PEP products, but I doubt if we'll ever see the fruition of that idea.
One could say that it's "the day that middleware died". Perhaps that's a good thing, in the long run. In many respects, we have a new approach to middleware that surrounds us, if only we'd take advantage of it.En cuanto a Stuart Charlton, agregado al Reader.
(...) It also didn't help that I had stopped believing that SOA would make anyone's life any easier, and reading some of the ITIL v2 material that was guiding our efforts also really just seemed to reinforce that we were following in the grand tradition of "smart people building skyscrapers to nowhere"