Getting Social at BEA Participate 2008

This week BEA launched the Participate 2008 blog and revealed more about their plans for what is shaping up to be a great event. Perhaps the most exciting news is that BEA will be using the conference to unveil a suite of social applications running on a soon-to-be-released version of ALI 6.5 and coded by the developers here at bdg.

Jay Simons writes, in this first post on the Participate blog:

Mobile, social experiment: conference attendees will be provided an iPod Touch (more on this later), and we’re unveiling a suite of applications (built on the soon-to-be-released version of AquaLogic Interaction by partner BDG) that attendees will be able to interact with through the Touch. The applications will be inherently social, allowing you to engage one another directly at the event, in sessions, in hallways, you name it. Social networking, on a mobile device, powered by AquaLogic User Interaction. That’s hot!

Hot is an understatement. Imagine the possibilities. . . .

Instead of raising your hand to ask a question, use your WiFi-enabled iPod Touch to post the question on the session’s wall while the session is in progress. Then, at the end of the session, the presenter can pull up the session’s wall on the projector and field the questions. Like the presenter? Ask him or her to be your contact or join one of your groups! Meet an influential C-level executive who’s an expert in SOA governance and want to get to know him better? You can poke him or leave a message on his wall.

Leave your business cards at home — instead use these great bdg-built/ALI-powered applications!

They’ll be much more info to come on this “social experiment,” so watch this space in the upcoming weeks and months. To give you a little taste, think Facebook tuned for the enterprise with the specific goal of conference social networking in mind. Rich user profiles; mini- and aggregate feeds; user, session and group walls; private messaging/poking; tagging and other popular Facebook-like functionality will all be included.

This is revolutionary, game-changing stuff. And this is why we’re excited about Participate 2008. We hope you are too.

Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Sounds like you could start a spinoff company just on this product! I bet it would be a fun (and useful) tool at ANY type of conference! Where can I find out more information about the “social applications running on a soon-to-be-released version of ALI 6.5”. Any sneak peeks? Are these built upon the Pages/Ensemble/Pathways components or are they new standalone features? Will they be included with upgrades or have any additional cost? Any release date projected? Keep up the good work Chris – you guys inspire us all to want to do more!

    Posted by: geoffgarcia on January 17, 2008 at 1:29 PM

  • Hi again Geoff! Thanks for your kind words. After a hard day of slaving away at code that doesn’t work (yet) and then two hours of driving through ice and slush, there’s nothing like coming home from work and finding nice comments on my blog. 🙂

    As for your questions, I don’t want to speak out of turn because BEA at this point is probably limited in what they can (and want) to say about ALUI 6.5. But I will answer them as much as I can in a follow-up post, after I seek BEA’s approval.

    So, long story short, watch this space and there will be much more, including, at some point, screenshots. Of course, if you want to see the The Full Monty, you’ll need to register for the conference.

    Posted by: bucchere on January 17, 2008 at 6:53 PM

BEA Participate 2008 Announced

From an e-mail I just received:

product-page-short-bg-1Mark your calendar today to attend a gathering of BEA customers, partners and product experts in Chicago, Illinois from May 12-15th, 2008.

BEAParticipate 2008, is a 2 ½ day event for our user community of innovators, to share experiences and best practices around the adoption of business process management, collaboration, portal and social computing technologies.

This coming year will feature more networking opportunities than ever — from industry roundtables, lunches, and evening receptions, to a partner and solution pavilion and product focus groups. This is a sure-fire opportunity to form lasting connections with your peers, and gain valuable insights from shared experiences in a hands-on, energetic setting.

Whether you are just starting out or have a long docket of active projects, this is the best forum to meet with BEA executives, engineering and product leaders, pick up useful tidbits from other innovative customers, and acquire new strategies for optimizing your business, improving knowledge worker productivity and increasing IT efficiency.

Don’t miss this interactive and social event! If you are interested in participating, have suggestions for topics, or have any questions, please send an e-mail to Participate.

Save the Date:
BEAParticipate 2008
May 12-15, 2008
Hyatt Regency
151 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601

To learn more about the Hyatt Regency in the heart of Chicago, click here.

Stay tuned for registration information, agenda and pricing details in the coming weeks.

Bringing Web 2.0 to the en.terpri.se

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.

Comments

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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?

    Posted by: logicuser on April 1, 2007 at 1:53 PM

  • 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.

    Posted by: bucchere on April 1, 2007 at 3:48 PM

  • 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.

    Cheers,

    Shane Pearson

    BEA Systems, Inc.

    VP, Marketing and Product Management

    Posted by: spearson on April 3, 2007 at 1:40 PM

Portals and SOA: Portals in a Service-Oriented Architecture

I’ve been invited to give the following talk at BEA Participate:

Why is a Service-Oriented Architecture important to an IT infrastructure and what are the elements and products needed to build out an SOA? These questions answered, plus a discussion on how portals are the practical starting point to leveraging SOA.

Quite honestly, the title and abstract make it sound like an invitation to engage in a lively game of buzzword bingo, but I assure you this talk will be light on the trite — you won’t hear me use the acronym SOA more than once or twice — and heavy on the real deal, rubber-meets-the-road stuff about how mere mortals/human beings are actually accomplishing the sort of things that SOA evangelists are preaching these days.

So, here’s what you can expect: I’ll talk a bit about some of the challenges of building integrated user experiences in today’s enormously complex and heterogeneous IT environment and show how a software developer — without superpowers — can piece together an integrated true-to-the-principals-of-SOA application using ALUI, ALDSP (Data Services Platform) and ALESB (Enterprise Service Bus). This will culminate in an actual, real-life demo.

I will of course make sure to sacrifice a chicken to the Almighty Goddess of Demos or do whatever else I have to do to make sure my demo doesn’t crash. Scratch that, I’ll just run it on Linux and everything will be fine.

So, all joking aside, if you have any ideas for items you’d like me to include in (or exclude from) my talk, please post your comments here. I’ll be sure to give anyone who makes a good suggestion a “shout out” during my presentation. They’re actually giving me a whole hour this time, so they’ll be room for plenty of tomfoolery, geekspeak, silly anecdotes and still time to answer your insightful questions at the end. As one of my good friends and business partners said following my talk at last year’s BEA World,

you never know what to expect during one of [Chris Bucchere’s] talks.

I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but of course I took it as a compliment.

In closing, while we’re on the subject of BEA Participate, I just wanted to say thanks to Christine “Obi” Wan for giving me the opportunity to present and, more importantly, for putting together such a great-looking agenda, which you can review if you like, because now it’s posted on the BEA Participate site.

In the meantime, do your best to convince the powers that be at your company/organization that they will finally discover the secret to “leveraging SOA” if they send you to this conference. Also, please don’t mention that every past Odyssey has had several open bars.

Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Working with Aqualogic we all know how it’s easy to plug in our portlet into Aqualogic. We don’t need Aqualogic portal running on our own computer to do this, we don’t need special IDE, we don’t need upload wars into portal. It took time to explain this to my experience J2EE collegaes that got some experience with IBM Websphere. Here what they do there:
    http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/techjournal/0410_barcia/0410_barcia.html
    A lot of steps pretty much the some but have a look at step 11. Here is the core difference. So at least one benifit of SOA is that we don’t need to do step 11.

    Posted by: Bryazgin on April 13, 2007 at 7:03 AM

  • >Quite honestly, the title and abstract make it sound like an >invitation to engage in a lively game of buzzword bingo True, I have the some issue. In my article (for russian development network) I want to stress SOA architecture of Aqualogic, but I don’t want to use SOA word. Audience is pretty techical so they all pretty much feed up of this word. Hmm, may be I will end up with this:
    Avoid nightmare of step number eleven !
    At least, “what the hell this guy talking about?” will be more predict reaction. 🙂

    Posted by: Bryazgin on April 13, 2007 at 7:25 AM

  • Hi Dmitri! Thanks for your insightful comments.As I’m building the demo for my talk, I’ve noticed that these SOA tools encourage you to loosely-couple everything. And that’s a good thing. As you pointed out, ALUI fits into this nicely with its loosely-coupled portlet architecture. The evil “Step 11” (too bad it wasn’t “Step 13”) is: “Select the Browse button and navigate to the WAR file for your portlet, then select Next (Figure 17).” Step 11 has some pretty awful implications for the enterprise. First off, it assumes that everything is Java, which, as much as I love Java, is just wrong wrong wrong in the heterogeneous enterprise. Secondly, it tightly couples your portlets to your portal, which is contrary to SOA.As an aside, I was listening to some Web 2.0 podcasts in the car the other day, and this guy who worked on Google Maps talked about “seams” in an architecture. To paraphrase, he basically said that everyone misuses the word “seamless.” Seams, just like in the textile industry, are critical to enterprise architecture. Just as seams hold swaths of fabric together and separate one bit of fabric from another, they also help define boundaries in the enterprise architecture that are equally critical to SOA. Without seams, everything must be homogeneous — applications must be bought from the same vendor, run on the same OS, be written in the same language, etc. — and this is completely contrary to the reality of enterprise software and systems and completely anti-SOA.

    To illustrate how not being “seamless” is actually a good thing, I’ve designed a demo system that involves bits of LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP), bits of Java, bits of .NET and bits of Adobe Flash all held together with seams built with ALDSP, ALESB and ALUI. I’m still working on the technical side of things, but the use case is simple: a sales rep wants to quote his customer. Behind the scenes, his company is running a LAMP CRM server, a Flash/SQLServer product database, a .NET portal, and a Java-based Collaboration Server. Using a hybrid of ALDSP, ALESB and Java and .NET web services, the user experience is easy and seamless, but behind the scenes, it’s the powerful seams supported by ALDSP and ALESB that make this not only possible, but fairly straightforward.

    If you’re interested in hearing more, register for BEA Participate and [shameless plug]come to my talk[/shameless plug]! By the way, I’m co-presenting with Joseph Stanko, the BEA Engineering Manager responsible for the development of Ensemble (formerly known as Project Runner) — he will run several slides to help you understand the theory behind SOA and I will show the reality of how the AquaLogic stack truly enables SOA in the enterprise.

    Posted by: bucchere on April 14, 2007 at 6:07 AM

  • Alas, I’ve finally finished my demo. I had some configuration issues with ALSB, but ultimately they boiled down to the interface between the keyboard and the chair, i.e. human error. I had the proxy service calling the business service, which, in turn, called the proxy service again. You should have seen the utter wasteland this little tidbit of mutual recursion made of my machine. Actually, I was impressed — Java would spit out a JVM_Bind error once it exceeded some internal maximum, but ALSB (running on WLS 9.2) would actually keep running. Nice.Anyway, now that I’m past all that, I have an ALDSP layer over two disparate data sources (one MySQL DB containing CRM info and one HSQL DB containing product info) exposing data through netui/beehive to a single ALI portlet. (The nifty little portlet uses script.aculo.us to show an interesting new take on the age-old concept of master-detail.) I also included an Adobe Flex-driven portlet. The two portlets use some client-side IPC (inter-portlet communication) to exchange info and then they call a proxy service on ALSB that takes info from both sources and creates a Word document (in the form of a sales quote). The business service also uploads this document to ALI Collaboration so that people can work on it collaboratively before sending it to the customer. (I may replace this last little bit with a .NET web service, just to show that Java and .NET are both acceptable alternatives for writing the “glue” or “seams” in a true service-oriented architecture.)Lastly, the event coordinators have locked in a time slot for us: Monday, May 7th at 4:30 PM in the Technical/Developer Track.

    If you’re “participating” it would great to see you at our talk or at the bdg booth. This year we have a cool — yet practical — giveway that will definitely brighten your day. Looking forward to the conference!

    Posted by: bucchere on April 22, 2007 at 7:52 PM

BEA Participate

A quiet little announcement was made last week: BEA plans to host an ALUI (formerly Plumtree) and ALBPM (formerly Fuego) user conference! Suprisingly, I don’t see any references on BEA’s web site, on dev2dev or really anywhere else about it, so I thought I would take a minute to promote the conference here.

Could this be a response to some customer and integrator concerns that there weren’t enough AL* breakout sessions at BEA World 2006? Possibly. Could this be the final nail in the coffin that was once called the “Unified Portal Roadmap.” I’m not sure.

Regardless, you can bet that I’ll be there along with several other folks from bdg. Stayed tuned for more information here about how we’ll be involved as an event sponsor, exhibitor and perhaps even as a presenter. I expect that we’ll have a lot of fun, share a great deal of what we know about ALUI and learn a great deal more from ALUI customers and other BEA partners.

The full extent of the information that currently exists about this conference can be found at http://www.bea.com/participate. We’ll be watching that space for more info and also posting several more times about our specific role in the conference. I suggest you do the same.

One obvious question any customer or partner should ask is: if I’m getting my budget together for 2007 conferences, should I attend BEA World or BEA Participate? If you’re a current ALUI or ALBPM customer, it’s a no brainer: attend BEA Participate. But what if you’re a prospect who is considering a portal or SOA solution from BEA? If you can afford it, I would say attend both!

Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Now I’m officially confused. Very weird that these are separate unless they’re using BEA World as a venue for “technical building blocks” and “Participate” to sell business collaboration / process solutions – that’s the only way I can see this.

    I have to be careful how I word this, so if the tone comes across in any way negative, well… that’s not my intention. IMO I would not attend BEA World again if it’s a repeat of last year’s.

    I loved Odyssey – it was well organized, had _great_ sessions targeted toward user education and productivity, and was all about the customer – sharing best practices, discussing common problems, and engaging in one-on-one w/ engineers and product managers. Sessions were focused on empowering the customer and making sure they were just a bit better at their jobs when they left. It was always worthwhile and our entire team (repeatedly) came away saying “glad we went.” Awesome stuff all around and did a lot to let the customers sell the solutions to other customers (always a better way to go).

    In attending BEA World last year I got the constant nagging sensation that it was a big (overt) sales conference and not really about the user and how to better utilize tools. ALUI was barely even on the map (which really bothers me). I didn’t have the sense that my needs were being addressed as much as in previous years and I really didn’t come away with anything “tangible” I could take back to justify the fee. The customer keynotes were cool, but beyond that we struggled to find value.

    Doing something with a “Participate” focus thing is a _great_ idea on the part of BEA if it’s about targeting the customer and helping understand how to succeed with the tools (and make friends along the way ;). Keywords: using the tools to succeed in business. That, IMO, was always the point to me in attending.

    Obi-wan – hear me. This should really be incorporated into BEA World for the benefit of your current and prospective customers. It will really boost the value of BEA World and do something to hammer home the fact that BEA and Plumtree are one company with one comprehensive suite (something Jay Simons’ web conference last year did a great job of explaining). Separating things like this … well… I get it, but it does imply a continued level of separation that customers expressed concern with last year.

    That said – and I sincerely hope that didn’t come across as negative – I’m excited to see what 2007 brings for the new products. Seeing a bit of what they’re cooking up, it’s nice to users finally getting past a lot of the geekware bits and into things they can build and use w/o IT bottlenecks. Very cool. Buy three 🙂

    Posted by: ewwhitley on February 12, 2007 at 7:28 AM

  • It’s not Obi-wan here, but Christine Wan and we’re definitely listening! BEA organized Participate to directly address the needs of business and IT users working with ALUI and ALBPM products. This is very much a forum for customers to gather and share best practices, to go deep with product managers and engineers and to hear the latest on new product developments.

    And it is an important complement to BEAWorld, providing much richer detail on these two specific product lines and more focus on bringing these specific users together in a forum where they can share experiences and ideas. The announcement last week was just a Save-the-Date. Stayed tuned, you’ll see a lot more information to come on the bea.com homepage and bea.com/participate.

    Posted by: cwan on February 12, 2007 at 2:09 PM

  • Hi, Christine 🙂 Very cool – I’m glad to hear this. We loved the “interactive” and focused nature of the Odyssey sessions. You guys did such a good job on that I think we just kinda got spoiled and expected something on that order for BEA World last year. That’s what happens when you make us too happy year after year 😉

    Posted by: ewwhitley on February 12, 2007 at 7:51 PM

  • I know that many customers I spoke with during and after BEAWorld echoed the same sentiment of being “underwhelmed” simply from being spoiled by Odysseys past. Along those same lines, an Advanced Developer Conference either as part of Particpate, an extension to it or separate from it would be awesome as well. I know that may be hard to do as part of this initial effort but it would be great at some point. We are definitely excited about it and all of this just builds anticipation until May.

    Posted by: kurtanderson on February 15, 2007 at 10:05 PM