Quite like old times. Instead of PR folk tending our every need (whim), it was AR folk. Analyst Relations, for those who missed me throwing my lot in with research/analysis firm Freeform Dynamics.
The venue? Barcelona. The company? BEA. My biggest training client in the late 90's, as it happens.
Anyway, life moves on. Judging from the on-stage buzzwords, BEA is right up there with the hip Web 2.0 crowd, the social networking lot, the SOA and the BPM folk.
The story it tells is good and coherent. A bit like Sir Norman Foster's, no doubt, as his gherkin took shape. A lot of the BEA vision already exists but parts have yet to be built.
Apparently we have to wait until November to find out which bits of its appropriately-named Genesis vision are expected to go live and when. Given the company's track record, I fully expect it to do what it says. And, frankly, it's going to take client company strategists a while to figure out what they want anyway.
So what's on offer? Well, a kind of soup to nuts of a modern IT infrastructure, from virtualisation at the bottom to business process management at the top.
BEA's separates the layers with clever technology so that design decisions at one level can be made independently of other levels. Thus business logic does not concern itself with the software components that provide the functionality. And software components don't need to care much for the platform on which they're run. This makes each level independently tweakable to reflect rapidly changing needs.
The software components themselves can be interlinked in various combinations to provide fresh applications rapidly. Think mashups for dummies. (No offence meant.) Unlike most conventional mashups these are all documented, filed, tagged and managed by the underpinning BEA software to make finding and linking them as easy as possible.
In-house social software is provided but popular third party software can be integrated too. This is probably a good point to mention BEA's agnosticism. There's no hidden agenda beyond helping clients derive value from their IT investments.
Having been out of touch with BEA for a while, I wasn't really aware of its virtualisation efforts. It's a hot topic, leading to more effective use of IT resources. It can also bring energy consumption/environmental benefits, especially in large data centres. But a lot depends on the efficiency of the virtualisation.
Here BEA has come up with the novel idea of removing the traditional operating system wherever possible. The conventional approach means that, this means that as the underpinning hardware scales up, performance first stalls (at four cores) then starts to fall off. By contrast, the BEA/VMware combo scales with it. The curve flattens slightly towards the top but, essentially, BEA just keeps on going.