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Java IoT: Article

JDJ Exclusive: How Long Can BEA Survive Against IBM?

Gartner Report Due Out This Month

The annual Gartner Research Report analyzing the application server market share among leading vendors is expected to be out this month.

According to the Gartner Report published last May, in 2002 IBM pulled ahead of BEA Systems for the first time and gained leadership of the J2EE application server market by walking away with a 37% market share; BEA dropped to second place with 29% of the market. The year before, in 2001, Gartner reported that BEA had 34% of the market share, with IBM close behind at 31%.

Recently, application server vendors have been extending their products to offer an application platform suite: a modern end-to-end platform for business applications. On the way, they are leaving behind the old standards and technologies. BEA Systems has rewritten BEA WebLogic Integration to compete with leading integration specialists. Its key differentiating premise is the convergence of development and integration.


Having said that, when Gartner completes the tabulation of 2003 numbers and publishes their annual report, it may not be surprising to see IBM opening the gap further with WebSphere against BEA's WebLogic Application Server Platform in global market share.

This year's Gartner Report may show that roughly 25% of BEA's business depends on their partnership with HP, and roughly 12% on Sun-based installations.

Oracle has a very strong position with their database installations and should be taken seriously as a viable competitor, which should help them gain market share in the J2EE application server markets. Fujitsu Siemens Computers' (FSC) endorsement of Oracle Application Server 10g gives Oracle a strong partner for its application platform suite. Oracle will also benefit from FSC's mainframe integration technology. The latest version of Oracle's application platform suite (APS) has many new features beyond its much-advertised readiness for grid computing. "But enterprises should not rush any evaluation," according to Gartner.

JBoss uses its technical and business innovation in the J2EE application server market to take on the software industry giants. (see JDJ's April interview with David Skok).

Back to the two dominant players of the application server market: after currency calculations are worked into the 2003 market share estimates, IBM may further solidify its leadership position against BEA with a couple of additional points in gains. If BEA's 2003 numbers, published in their annual financials are normalized against the currency effect, their position could look even worse against IBM and may even look negative. Last year, BEA's $1 billion sales mark was greatly helped by the impact of the international currency translations of their financials. BEA Systems filed their annual report on April 15, 2004. IBM's market cap as of April 2004 was roughly $150 billion vs. BEA at around $5 billion.

Another caution that needs to be taken into consideration while analyzing market share is that this information is extracted from the companies' financial reports and determined as their actual application-server sales. There may not be a perfect way to know market share shifts other than what they provide.

Both IBM and BEA are doing a healthy amount of business in the Java space. In 2003 many solution provider partners bet on both companies by partnering with both until they saw signs of a clear leader arising.

In 2002, IBM also landed the No. 1 position in the portal space with 30.8% of the market, with BEA a distant second with 8% and Oracle third with 3.7% as well as dominating in message-oriented middleware with a whopping 80.8% of the market, according to Gartner. Sun's Sun ONE and TIBCO's middleware had 4.9% and 4.8% of market share.

The 2003 Gartner data is expected to be out by the time you read this article. Even if BEA closes the gap with IBM in the application server market share and gains back its leadership position, they will continue to be challenged by IBM, although in the short term this would eliminate any concerns to be flagged by Wall Street. On the other hand, if IBM continues to take market share from BEA, the survival odds may very well be against them in the long run, while competing with a Big Blue gorilla 30 times their size!

We will have an exclusive interview with Joanne Correia, vice president and research director at Gartner Group, analyzing this year's report, in our next issue. We will also interview others for their feedback on that.

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JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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Most Recent Comments
krishnan 05/14/04 08:29:20 AM EDT

After having used,supported several app servers, i def think BEA weblogic is a much better product than any of them in terms of its simplicity, smooth transition from version to version, compliance to J2EE etc and yet its not able to gain market share. IBM has built a strong client base over 20 to 30 yrs which BEA definitely doesnt have. Also IBM has a several revenue streams - networking, hardware, services etc which can additional revenue to app server division and unfortunately BEA doesnt have anthing like that. Its a company solely built on one product - BEA Weblogic server. I am not sure what will happen eventually, but i do believe a good product like weblogic will not go away. Good example is Linux.They could probably have alliance with big players from different sectors of IT industry and virutally look bigger. All the Best to BEA.

Satya 05/10/04 03:18:26 PM EDT

I am very positive BEA will give tough competetion to IBM, and I wish so too. IBM's tendency towards Java and related technologies already shows monopolistic behavior. This is a grave danger to the industry; in fact, their products are not as good as many of their competetors. Why should they take the lead? For example, WSAD is not even closer to Borland JBuilder as IDE. I don't agree that every one should join the Eclipse to succeed in the market. We need competitive and variety products in the market. I urge the professionals not to support monopolistic tendencies of any company; as professionals we should support professionally competitive products. Look back to the past where Microsoft's monopoly is still making us suffer. I don't want it to happen with IBM or any other company. The worst thing that could happen to Java is IBM taking over control of it.

Boez 05/07/04 11:58:41 AM EDT

Gee, Andy, I guess you haven't noticed what has been happening to Sun in the last three years with respect to their server sales. Whose ass is really being kicked here?

IBM has far more ISV partners than BEA and JBoss. Do your homework before you post such gibberish.

Andy 05/07/04 11:04:50 AM EDT

Let''s not forget that IBM, despite its size, has had its ass kicked many times. Lets not forget, Microsoft and that story, or even Sun totally destroying them in the small to mid-range server market. So lets face it - who would trust any IBM "strategic" moves? IBM should be closely compared to a retarded gorilla.

As for IBM WS being so great - how come ISV vendors almost always embed BEA WLS in their products and not IBM or even JBoss? BEA has over 2,400 ISV partners. IBM, I suspect, has next to none.

Roger Lee 05/07/04 10:22:18 AM EDT

Think most of WS "sales" are shelfware. I''m at a huge IBM site where WS is supposedly the standard. It''s hardly used anywhere in the org. The only places are with third party products that required WS as its App. Server; these are running old versions 3.5/4.0.

We have just tried to convert a J2EE Application from WLS 8.1 to WS 5.0. Even with the help of IBM "Consultants" they couldn''t get it working. It''s now going live with WLS 8.1 sp2.

My impression WS is extremely poor product, it''s so cumbersome to build and deploy a J2EE Application.

Ingrid Elima 05/05/04 07:42:14 PM EDT

Please...Give us a break! It´s THEIR money.
How about some tecnical analisys showing us which product is better ?
WLS 8.1 kicks Webshere5 ass.

BBT90s 05/04/04 10:29:35 PM EDT

It''s quite clear what is happening.

IBM couldn''t take the lead from a tech perspective so they took the marketing route instead. Nothing wrong with that, it''s a free world!

There are estimates that 50-75% of Websheres licenses are shelf-ware. So is it relevant speaking about market share from a license point of view, No of course it isn''t.
But one have to admit that IBM made a good job of promoting the few customers that have deployed applications on Websphere. This shouldn''t be to hard since they probably got a larger marketing budget than BEA''s revenue.

Gartner uses information they get from IBM and BEA and a little research of their own to create their reports. This isn''t rocket sience you know. By giving them the "right" info it''s easy to "influence" the report.
Just my 2c

John Murray 05/01/04 10:56:32 AM EDT

Most of the shops that I see running Websphere or OAS are doing so becasue they were given the product free based on past partnerships. Whenever I''ve seen a shop given the freedom to choose their J2EE container based on merits, they almost always choose Weblogic. The product is superior and that will always guarantee their survial, but you know that a superior product doesn''t always translate into marketshare. Just look at your desktop OS!

Chris Wild 05/01/04 10:49:33 AM EDT

I have delivered applications on weblogic 8.1, Oracle 9.0.3 and Websphere 5.1 and Weblogic was by far the best experience for me. Everything just works the way it should and the documentation is pretty good.

Oracle was a pain to live with, the documentation was all over the place and I got the feeling that the product had been glued together from a bunch of separate technologies, by a bunch of separate teams, and no-one talked to each other.

Websphere + WSAD was very productive, but the learning curve was quite steep - Getting CMP working was a MAJOR pain.

I really hope BEA can hold out, but to be honest I''m backing IBM. - At the end of the day the choice of app servers is a management decision, and in the long term I think it''s going to be far easier for your average manager to justify the decision to go with IBM.

Gabor Moos 05/01/04 10:48:04 AM EDT

The list of issues I had with Oracle''s application server are to long to mention. The most offending issue was that the Enterprise Manager would only function till I restarted the machine. It would not start anymore, and the only option I had was to reinstall it. Did I mention that reinstalling Oracle stuff is a major pain in the ... itself?

I would happily choose Websphere over Oracle 9i AS R2 any day, without thinking twice. But I am not a big fan of Websphere either, to be honest.

I just love working with Weblogic, however. :)

Carlos Saavedra 05/01/04 10:46:20 AM EDT

Actually, I believe that BEA should look out for Oracle who has made moves to take over BEAs market share.

BTW, anyone using Oracle''s lastest AppServer? My company is evaluating the posibility of partnering with Oracle and dropping BEA.


Matt Filios 05/01/04 10:44:33 AM EDT

WebLogic is a solid product, and has a fantastic customer base. They have done a good job of evolving their offerings as the commoditization to some degree of the application server has occurred. WebLogic is BEA''s mothership. IBM, on the other hand, has WebSphere as just one of their many product and service offerings. With the partnerships that BEA has with HP and Sun, I would not be surprised to see them acquired somewhere down the road.

Either way, WebLogic will continue to be around for many years to come I believe.

Karl Banke 05/01/04 10:41:15 AM EDT

I find it quite perverse to believe that a company has to vanish just because there is one or the other competitor. Without competition in the market place we would still be hacking away on cobol mvs boxes using punchcars (if at all). Even if the competitor is big, there is no reason, you should not excel by improving and reengineering your product.....

And I quite like BEA WebLogic, its management console, the productivity and flexibility I get from it and most of the stuff BEA has based on WebLogic.


kikuyo4me 05/01/04 10:34:46 AM EDT

In the yesterday INvestor relation meeting company is cautious abt the corporate spending and license renewal worries them....

I''m going to assume there was some kind of investor relations meeting yesterday, and this poster was privy to what was said in the meeting.

I think his post is legit simply because it correlates to my long held beliefs.

The two points he mentions:

1) Corporate spending still weak
2) License renewals worry them

All point to the same thing, BEA''s value proposition is suspect!

If corporate spending is weak, from BEA''s view, even though OTHER technology sectors have shown strength in the same period, that has to lead you to believe that it''s Java/J2EE infrastructure that is weak, not overall technology spending.

The renewal license revenue concern just re-enforces this view. If the value proposition of expensive Java/J2EE app servers IS being questioned by the IT world, this would show up as poor license renewal activity. More and more companies are likely realizing that that they can do what they NEED to do with freeware Java/J2EE app servers. They are probably porting their apps to JBOSS, and dropping WebLogic to lose the maintenance fees, (which average 15% of the original sale annually).

mybond666 05/01/04 10:32:31 AM EDT

In the yesterday INvestor relation meeting company is cautious abt the corporate spending and license renewal worries them....

Vlad 05/01/04 03:04:00 AM EDT

It seems there is confusion. Which application server is the best: Weblogic, websphere or Jboss ? I personaly don't know !! The market changed since Jboss Group started its new support strategy, J2ee application are becoming commodities. Application Servers are strategic, therefore just few companies are taking the risk of a migration from Weblogic to Jboss.

The title of the article is "How Long Can BEA Survive Against IBM? This title should have been "How long BEA can survive against the open source community sponsored by IBM ?
Eclipse is one part of this strategy in order to maximize revenus generated from services and hardware. The reality is that the software market is becoming less valuable compare to other markets. In the meantime, software helps other markets to generate revenu.
Eclipse is the key of this strategy and you will be surprise that Jboss and Mysql are welcome even if they are competitors of Websphere and DB2.
Eclipse is being currently developed by IBM and little other contribution and all other plugins by more than 3000 full time developers. How long will the 150-300 full time BEA developers succeed to fight against Eclipse. It is impossible !!!! I personaly think that Eclipse is adapted for large corporation and the out of the box Bea J2ee development solution for medium size company.
Finaly the major problem of BEA is not Websphere but Eclipse spirit sponsor by IBM. Jboss,Jonas, Hibernate,Torque and many other wonderfull open source project are contributing to Eclipse.
It seems that Sun and BEA are missing the big picture !!The best would be that Sun and Bea merge, enter Eclipse Board, and finaly start using their software to maximize services and hardware.
The world is changing and BEA needs to change. What I am saying is not what I personaly think, this is what my clients says to me and they are in the top 2000 major companies.

Business Development Director

BSA 04/30/04 07:01:56 PM EDT

WebLogic is much better than WebSphere and Weblogic Workshop is a swiss-army's knife for J2EE development that's also much better than Eclipse for J2EE development. However, Eclipse is a great IDE for J2SE and non enterprise-wide developments.

kikuyo4me 04/30/04 06:18:46 PM EDT

If you read that link, there is an implied assumption in it that is incorrect!!

Too many people incorrectly assume that ALL of BEA''s revenues are generated by WebLogic. That is simply NOT true. BEA is still selling alot of their legacy transaction processing monitor (TUXEDO).

The really problematic thing for the average investor is that BEA has always steadfastly REFUSED to disclose the revenue breakdown between WebLogic and TUXEDO. In fact they''ve gone OUT OF THEIR WAY to hide the actual breakdown.

This is usually evident durning earnings CC''s, especially when the ''over 1 million'' deal question comes up. My opinion is that MOST large deals that BEA does are TUXEDO deals. Now I guarantee you Alfred knows exactly what transpires with EVERY million plus deal, (there are typically only 7 to 15 per quarter).

2 CC''s ago, Alfred was touting their million plus deals. An analysts asked the question "How many of those deals were TUXEDO?". Alfreds answer was "some". He knew damn well exactly how many were TUXEDO deals, yet declined to give details! There is something VERY suspicious about this! Why is BEA SO evasive when discussing WebLogic vs. TUXEDO revenues?

My guess is that BEA has tried very hard to leave the impression that THEY are the Java/J2EE 800 lb gorilla in the market. They downplay how much they actually sell TUXEDO because TUXEDO doen''t have the ''explosive'' potential of Java/J2EE. They do everything they can short of outright lying to make investors think most of their revenue comes from WebLogic, because they believe that it was WebLogic that cause their stock to catch fire in 1999, and they want to keep that fire burning!!

Just my $.02

Scott Kay 04/30/04 05:07:42 PM EDT

Gee I''ll bet IBM spends a lot more money with Gartner Group than BEA.... Consulting in this business is basically legalized extortion. hehehe

Bill Gates 04/30/04 03:41:11 PM EDT

Remember Lotus 1,2,3? Where is it now? Was it better than Excel? How about VisiCalc?

Size DOES matter here. IBM is definately in this to win it. They understand the importance of owning this space. BEA is so 5 minutes ago.

Eric Stahl 04/30/04 12:54:08 PM EDT

Hmmm, this research into actual app server contracts in the UK says the exact opposite of the Gartner numbers;


Go figure!


javaguru 04/30/04 10:02:41 AM EDT

If this was an application server count comparison, Gartner will really never know the numbers. Are we talking physical or logicial? Some people are running 5 or more application servers on one box.

Citizen Kane 04/30/04 09:29:06 AM EDT

Whoever is hiding underneath the JDJ News Desk should show his or her face...this piece harkens back to "The Yellow Kid"

"As newspapers began to compete more and more with one another to increase circulation and obtain more advertising revenue, a different type of journalism was developed by publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.

In the mid-1890s, Pulitzer (in the New York World) and Hearst (in the San Francisco Examiner and later the New York Morning Journal) transformed newspapers with sensational and scandalous news coverage, the use of drawings and the inclusion of more features such as comic strips.

After Pulitzer began publishing color comic sections that included a strip entitled "The Yellow Kid" in early 1896, this type of paper was labeled "yellow journalism." Drawn by R.F. Outcault, the popular (if now-unfunny) strip became a prize in the struggle between Pulitzer and Hearst in the New York newspaper wars. Outcault moved the strip to Hearst''s papers after nine months, where it competed with a Pulitzer-sponsored version of itself.

"The Yellow Kid" proved the first merchandising phenomenon of the comics. The character was portrayed in keychains and collector cards, appeared on stage and even had a short-lived magazine named after him.

The papers themselves trumpeted their concern for the "people." At the same time, yellow journalists choked up the news channels on which the common people depended with shrieking, gaudy, sensation-loving, devil-may-care kinds of journalism. This turned the high drama of life into a cheap melodrama and led to stories being twisted into the forms best suited for sales by the hollering newsboy."


pv 04/30/04 09:11:37 AM EDT

IBM gives away WebSphere with just about everything.. sure, market saturation is there, but the numbers might be off a bit..

LaloCeli 04/30/04 08:37:52 AM EDT

1. Gartner studies somehow tend to favour MicroSoft and IBM, both contributors to Gartner''s "bottom line".
2. BEA is definately a better product.
3. As I understand, IBM ships WebSphere with every sale of AS/400, and other hardware, and although WebSphere is never used, they still count it as an installation, so those numbers may be skewed.

Ed 04/30/04 07:57:00 AM EDT

Has anyone stopped to think about the fact that every product under the sun that IBM sells (over 100) are branded WebSphere (eg WebSphere MQSeries) - So how do you really work out marketshare ?
Secondly, a stack of WebSphere app server software is pushed at customers as part of other license deals - so there is a stack of WebSphere shelf-ware out there.

nigel 04/30/04 07:44:17 AM EDT

Aside from whether you are a BEA groupie or an IBM groupie, it is clear that BEA is losing share. You can't start complaining after BEA was ahead all those years and then they fall behind. If BEA was able to crow they were in first place they must accept the news that they have lost it, especially when we are comparing numbers from the same analyst group. Unfortunately for them, their "we can repeat what Microsoft did (because many of us used to work for them)" and proprietary tools strategy will continue to hurt them. They should join Eclipse.

jak 04/30/04 06:15:06 AM EDT

On Claudia's comment, when IBM reports its financials it adjusts its figures for currency effects. With the current weakness of the $US this means IBM's European revenue is adjusted downwards. Some other US IT companies don't adjust their figures for currency effects (BEA?), which means their $US figures end up looking better than they really are. This is the point JDJ was making. They're not on IBM's payroll.

Claudia 04/30/04 05:48:57 AM EDT

Do you know ? JDJ says that BEA results have been helped by the currency change ($ vs Euro) and so what? IBM had the same advantage for its european results.
Would you JDJ people stop to get money by IBM?

JavaLover 04/30/04 04:18:06 AM EDT

I really do not appreciate this sort of reporting. It is quite obviously biased towards IBM. Gartner is predicting that 70% of applications will be built with Application Platform Suites and this is where BEA's advantage over IBM becomes apparent to anyone who has used the technology. BEA's product suite has been built from scratch on a common code base. IBM has an inconsistent bag of technologies bundled together - it will be very difficult for IBM to catch up. Having said that, IBM software will be used by many IBM customers as a matter of policy. Sales on other platforms will gravitate to BEA.

Furthermore, software sales figures given by hardware manufacturer are notoriously unreliable because they always play around with bundling software with hardware. At the end the software is given free of charge and not even used. But it makes for good statistics.

I think JDJ would provide a better service by focusing on the technology, rather that this FUD stuff it picks up from the vendors. We can get better marketing information elsewhere.

Vlad VARNICA 04/30/04 04:10:33 AM EDT


I agree with Jack. Eclipse is perfectly adapted to use Weblogic or Jboss appplication servers and also Oracle, MySql, DB2 RDBMS. If BEA doens''t join Eclipse, they have no futur!!!
Our EclipseUML Studio allows modeling and easily deploy any J2ee app server and use any RDBMS. Bea and Oracle are therefore welcome to contribute to the Eclipse community and use plugins approach to have a full and advanced Java solution. From coding, modeling, testing, deploying etc...

Jack Martin 04/30/04 01:16:31 AM EDT

If you look at WebLogic and WebSphere from an end to end product offering point of view BEA is not even in the race.

Think about it: IBM is making tools for people to work with WebLogic. That would be like GM making tools for people to work on Fords.

Thw reason WebSphere will continue to gain market share is simple - companies have shiffted to buying solutions. It is not just an application server question anymore.

siva prasad n 04/29/04 11:16:24 PM EDT

We should all remember what happened to ATG - An excellent product technically by any standard(Except that it was not J2EE compliant, but still had the roots in the J2EE methodology). More often than technical competence as a product its the marketing that matters the most. In case of ATG vs Weblogic or any other J2EE App sever vendor , ATG lost out on the race becuase of a lack of proper marketing and not complying with the J2EE standards , but when it comes to WebSphere vs. Weblogic supposedly if both are equals the choice is obvious who wins. But it must an interesting race to watch if weblogic persists against the giant.

Mathew Thomas 04/29/04 10:42:53 PM EDT

BEA definitely has the better product line. IBM is the 1000000pound gorilla who can hardly move but when it does it can crush anything in its path. I have used both products and by far BEA is better (mind u its not perfect). I hope the Gartner report breaks down the numbers in

- number of new sales
- number of upgrades from previous versions
- Licencing costs per product

Often large organizations like the name IBM. Somewhere i heard the line "you cannot get fired for hiring IBM" :)

Bottomline is BEA has to get its act together (hopefully it has). Especially with more open source application servers coming out (like Apache's Geromino).

Kunal 04/29/04 08:32:32 PM EDT

The numbers do appear unclear, and sometimes misleading. While I'm not questioning Gartner's methodology of extracting the numbers, the practical experience of developers, support engineers, etc., in the industry seems to point to BEA as a clear leader purely in the application server space, followed by IBM. Plus WebLogic's reliability, quality and usability are far ahead of WebSphere's.
The messaging-oriented-middleware numbers puzzled me even more - IBM may be a leader over TIBCO, but certainly not by that much, and Sun ONE is nowhere in the MoM picture.

siva prasad n 04/29/04 04:37:41 PM EDT

I could not quite get at the numbers being talked about. In terms of sales IBM might have dominated the App Server Market now , but I am not sure about the number of installations and the deals being offered. As far as I know , the relation between the sales and the number of installations is quite bent. So as long as BEA can capture the market in terms of numbers(of production installations) I guess it will be pretty tough for IBM to topple it. And more often BEA server speaks for itself when it comes to reliability and stability.

jos 04/28/04 02:41:57 PM EDT

I hope the best for bea as they have and by far the best product. IBM is mostly chosen when they are already in the place (as microsoft, you start with them and then you have no real choice to go with other products) or for political reason. I have used both weblogic and websphere and I can tell you that from a pure technical side, developpers are much more productive with BEA and they control much more of whats done under the cover.
Unfortunately we all know that the choice of a J2EE container is most of the time not based on technical advantages.

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