BEA to buy portal vendor Plumtree

BEA to buy portal vendor Plumtree

BEA Systems is acquiring Plumtree Software, one of the earliest pioneers in the enterprise-portal-software market, for approximately US$200 million in cash.

BEA has its own J2EE-based portal platform, called BEA WebLogic Portal, which the company describes as a transactional portal. Plumtree's product suite includes a portal designed for non-technical business users and related products for collaboration, search, analytics, and content management.

Plumtree carved out a valuable space in the portal market by enabling its platform to support both Microsoft .Net-based and J2EE-based application servers.

This cross-platform support was appealing to BEA, according to Alfred Chuang, founder, chairman, and CEO of BEA.

"The portal is becoming the [central] point of integration in the enterprise," Chuang said.

With the acquisition of Plumtree, he added, "now [BEA] is more than just J2EE. Now we are truly multiplatform."

Because the two portals target fundamentally different aspects of the enterprise, BEA officials said the company plans to keep the Plumtree and BEA portal product lines separate.

WebLogic Portal targets companies using transactional portals in a J2EE application development environment, according to Mark Carges, BEA's CTO and executive vice president., Plumtree's portal is designed for business users in a collaborative workgroup setting,

"We are keeping both [BEA and Plumtree products] as two separate portal product lines for as long as we can see," he said. "Each product is a leader in its own right."

Furthermore, underlying database support for the two products will not change in the foreseeable future, said John Kunze, Plumtree's CEO, who, like Carges, will stay on at BEA and lead the transition. Plumtree currently supports SQL and Oracle, while BEA supports any database.

The deal is expected to close in the fall, according to BEA officials. At that time Plumtree will become a part of a new BEA product unit.

Plumtree was founded in 1996 and has more than 700 customers worldwide, Kunze said.

The incorporation of Plumtree into BEA is a good fit and will benefit both vendors' customers, Kunze said. Both companies have recognized the heterogeneous nature of IT infrastructure and understand the importance of supporting open technologies, he said.

"With BEA's commitment to run on multiple application servers and support multiple systems -- this is a good synergistic combination," Kunze said.

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