BEA boosts SOA services

Von Paul Krill

Self-assessment tool is featured BEA Systems Inc. on Thursday is unveiling a free Web-based tool to measure a customer"s "baseline" for pursuing an SOA (service-oriented architecture), and also is bolstering professional service offerings.

The tool, called the "Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Readiness Self-Assessment" guides participants through a series of questions to gauge the importance of matters such as reduced complexity, maintenance, business efficiency, and investment protection. Users receive feedback on factors such as company strengths within 24 hours.

BEA"s tool is built around around BEA"s SOA Domain Methodology, which focuses on six areas of an SOA: Architecture; Building Blocks; Business Strategy & Process; Costs & Benefits; Organizations & Governance, and Projects & Applications.

"The Domain model is the thing that takes SOA from hype to something you could realize," said David Groves, director of worldwide professional services at BEA. The tool "covers the six areas that you need to take (into) account," Groves said. Although the tool does not specifically recommend that participants purchase BEA products, they probably would hear from a BEA salesperson afterward, according to BEA officials.

The tool is accessible at BEA"s Web site.

BEA also is expanding its SOA service offerings to focus on exploration, planning, and implementation. Featured will be services such as a discovery workshop, training, and long-term expert input via a Solutions Office to enable enterprise-scale migration to an SOA. Previously, the company only provided customized SOA consulting.

An analyst questioned how BEA would provide the services. Professional services and consulting is where the SOA revenue will be generated in 2005, said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, in an e-mail message. "That said, it"s unclear as to where BEA is going to get the (work force) to deliver the services, and whether or not they will be able to deliver SOA in a truly heterogeneous way," he said.

The new services do not include actual coding, according to BEA. "Our goal is to make the client more self-sufficient," Groves said. BEA has a team focused on helping companies develop SOAs, but the company is not attempting to be a services company in the same vein as IBM Corp. or Oracle Corp., Groves said.

"On the face of it, it"s great that BEA finally realizes that SOA isn"t a pure technology problem," Schmelzer said. "You can"t simply provide technology and hope to solve companies" problems, since SOA can"t be delivered solely by products or configuration wizards."

BEA on Thursday also is announcing the appointment of Bruce Graham as vice president of Worldwide Professional Services. Previously, Graham was a founding partner of Feld Group, an IT strategy and technology management firm that was acquired recently by Electronic Data Systems Corp. Graham has been at BEA for two years and has served as vice president of product, partner, and alliance marketing.