First, let me establish one thing: I don’t work for BEA. Since leaving Plumtree more than four years ago, neither Plumtree nor BEA has paid me a dime. They don’t pay me to write in this blog. They’re not paying me to speak at BEA Participate in May. Although we have a subcontract agreement in place, we have never actually subcontracted through Plumtree nor through BEA. You get the point: what I write here (or anywhere, for that matter) is not endorsed or sanctioned in any way by BEA.
The beauty of that is that I can be BEA’s sharpest critic or their most outspoken advocate. Today, I come to you, dear readers, as the latter.
I am here to tell you that I think the latest marketing positioning to come from BID — in the most apropos form of a “rogue” web site called en.terpri.se — is perhaps the finest writing I have yet to read on the topic of bringing Web 2.0 to the enterprise.
This concept — which many of you already know as “Enterprise 2.0” — is not a new one. But just as consumer portals were not new in 1997, they were at that time very new to the enterprise. And today blogs, wikis, tagging and other social software have already infiltrated the consumer internet. But, as we have been saying since early this year and as others have been saying for a while now, these concepts are only being embraced by the early adopters in corporate/enterprise computing.
But with projects Builder (Holland), Runner and Graffiti (now known as Pages, Ensemble and Pathways, respectively) nearing general availability, all of that is about to change. If you want to find out exactly how, I encourage you to read and digest all of en.terpri.se and its more traditionally-branded counterpart, www.bea.com/enterprise.
Just as Plumtree took the world of enterprise computing by storm by introducing the concept of the corporate portal, BEA is about to re-revolutionize the enterprise by injecting it with a strong dose of Web 2.0.
I won’t rehash what they’ve already spelled out so concisely and intelligently on en.terpri.se; instead, I’ll give you my own take on the products based on what I’ve read there.
Pages (formerly known as Project Builder or Holland)
To call Pages a powerful blogging and wiki tool for the enterprise doesn’t really do it justice because it is, well, so much more than that. Imagine if you could use point-and-click/drag-and-drop tools to mash up structured data (RDF/RSS, the output of a SOAP-based web service, or the result of a SQL query) with unstructured, end-user maintainable, version-controlled wiki-like content — now you’re scratching the surface.
For those of you already familiar with AquaLogic products, think of how amazing Studio would be if it were somehow married to Publisher (we used to call this “Contudio” before it actually existed) and if Studio could tap into existing resources and then somehow weave published content into the resulting user interface output. Now put all this in the hands of the end-user (to give it that Web 2.0 magic), add a sprinkle of security/governance, auditing and enterprise administration and you’ve got Pages.
Ensemble (formerly known as Project Runner)
This may not be the best way to envision Ensemble, but it works for me: imagine taking all the tasty bits that Pages gives you, but put it in the hands of IT and developers. Instead of dragging-and-dropping, a developer can embed a runner Pagelet XML tag into his or her legacy (or newfangled long-tail/rogue) application, then proxy the application through the runner “gateway” and, out of nowhere, the application can have, say, a collaboration discussion or wiki page embedded in it.
Not to mention that other enterprise services such as security, SSO and auditing, can be mixed into the application just because it’s running in the Ensemble gateway. With this incredible new product, pretty much anything is possible because it gives developers the tools to provide secure, scalable, audit-able and maintainable mashups of just about anything in the enterprise or consumer web.
Pathways (formerly known as Project Graffiti)
Calling Pathways a next-generation Knowledge Directory may be an easy way to conceptualize it, but again it really doesn’t do it justice. Unlike the top-down, “mother knows best” taxonomies of the past, Pathways puts the power to categorize corporate knowledge in the hands of the knowledge consumer. Like del.icio.us and digg, Pathways is BEA’s recognition of the “many is smarter than any” principle. Unlike its consumer web counterparts, Pathways uses a page-ranking system that’s based on a whole slew of factors, including not just how or how much an entry is tagged, but also how “respected” the tagger is in terms of other entries he or she has tagged. Like the KD of the past, Pathways can import content from file shares, e-mail/groupware systems and even from Sharepoint (gasp) — think CWSs — but very much unlike the KD of the past, control over the taxonomy and how well entries get ranked in search is ceded to the end-user, where many argue it belongs.
Needless to say, I’m very exited about these new product initiatives for many reasons, not the least of which being that I’ve bet my entire company’s future on their success. So maybe I am a little biased. That being said, I’m not here to tell you that BEA invented Web 2.0 or even Enterprise 2.0. However, I am saying that — based on what I’ve experienced over the past ten years that I’ve been pushing the enterprise computing envelope — BEA is poised to execute on the Enterprise 2.0 reality better than any other company right now.
Mark my words: you will watch Pages, Ensemble and Pathways implementations spring up throughout the Fortune-whatever just as quickly as you saw enterprise portals replace intranets in the late 90s.
Better yet, in the spirit of Enterprise and Web 2.0, rather than watching this happen, let’s participate in it.
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- Are these products built with partners or reskinned? Is that the reason why this isn’t this on dev2dev? How long has this been on?
- I’m not sure I fully understand your questions, but I think I can comment on them a bit. First off, the products are being built by BID’s core engineering team — many of the same folks who brought you ALUI, ALI Publisher, ALI Collaboration, ALI Studio, etc. I don’t know what you mean by “reskinned” but these products are all new initiatives, although they undoubtedly leverage the experience the BID folks have garnered over the past 10 years they’ve spent building enterprise portals and other enterprise software.To answer your last question, the marketing documents and web site were only released last week to the public. I think you should expect to see GA for these products some time this summer, but don’t quote me on that — remember, I don’t work for BEA.As for this stuff not being on dev2dev, well, with my blog post, now it is! There’s also a lot of the same info located at www.bea.com/enterprise with more traditional BEA branding. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more on dev2dev soon.
- These products have all been organically developed at BEA. In some cases we have leveraged our existing capabilities and technologies (i.e. our experiences with our search product informed our decisions with the new Pathways product), and in the end these are new products built by BEA.The http://en.terpri.se micro-site was launched last week, and it is meant to provide a Web 2.0 and Social Computing resource that will grow over time. We will have the blogs on dev2dev and en.terpri.se refer to each other as appropriate.And, of course the same base product information was also made available concurrently last week at http://www.bea.com/enterprise.
BEA Systems, Inc.
VP, Marketing and Product Management