BEA Systems to build Canadian channel

Enterprise infrastructure software developer BEA Systems Inc. has realigned its Canadian operation to better work with the channel for future growth.

The company, which has its Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont., has rebranded itself with a liquid theme. One of its slogans is BusinessLiquidITy. After its March acquisition of Dallas-based business process management software developer Fuego, BEA launched AquaLogic as one of its flagship products along with WebLogic.

BEA Systems has been in Canada for about six years, but for the first time the parent organization has given the subsidiary autonomy. In the past, the Toronto office reported to the company’s New York office, while BEA’s western Canadian office checked into the corporation’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

The company started dabbling in the channel about a year ago when it hired former Oracle Canada vice-president of technology sales Linda Whelan to be its country manager.

Under Whelan’s direction, BEA Canada put a small channel strategy together with go-to-market routes through large system integrators such as CGI, Xwave and Accenture.

Needed VARs
However, she quickly realized that BEA Canada needed more VARs to handle the small and mid-market here.

“We are for the most part a mid-market here in Canada,” she said. “There are 55 or 60 (BEA Canada employees) of us in Canada and 10 of those I would say are sales-facing. For me to get the depth and breadth, coast-to-coast, I need to partner. We have to expand the reseller base.”

The division hired Sid Silverberg as channels and alliances manager, signed six partners and is aiming to recruit more.

“What we are looking for is the value-add that they bring to the table,” Whelan added.

Whelan does not want to sign too many VARs. The goal is to have about 15 across the country. BEA Canada wants to cover regional bases and sign VARs who have strong expertise in a growing vertical industry or have a compelling value proposition. For example, it recently signed Interdynamics of Calgary for the oil and gas vertical market.

David Senf, a software market analyst for IDC Canada, said BEA currently is clearly making the rounds to grow its Canadian presence.

He believes that BEA’s position is not unique to any new player trying to challenge IBM, Oracle and SAP here.

The problem, as Senf sees it, is the Canadian market has a huge installed base that is entrenched with its suppliers, so growing net new accounts will be challenging.

Multiple threats
“They are facing challenges from several angles. We got on one hand Oracle and SAP bundling application server portals and integrating services into their applications. This can either be functionality bundling or within the sale. So the customer still pays for it, Senf said.

“Then we’ve got IBM from the high end coming down. They have a database, Tivoli and its own portal offering. And, let’s not forget they have IBM Global Services and their own hardware. From the low end is JBoss from the open source community, and Microsoft is coming up from the mid-market,” Senf said.

BEA must grow the channel and connect to customer pain points to be successful, he said.

“BEA’s core value is they enable SOA (service oriented architecture), and part and parcel to that is to be able to tailor software for a given vertical. That means knowing the customer and that means connecting with the channel. No one has feet on the street like that to tackle that much diversity even in Canada. That is true for Oracle, SAP and even IBM,” Senf said.

Senf does expect an up-tick from BEA sales here this year.

Murray Abbott, the director of consulting services and Internet services practice leader at CGI, believes BEA’s software has better technical capabilities than its competitors.

“I’ve been working with BEA closely for the last five years and I can tell you, as a consultant who works with everyone else’s products, they are a little bit more advanced than the others,” Abbot said.

CGI, which acquired the BEA partnership after buying Montreal-based AGTI Consulting, used the WebLogic Integration platform to help a large company in the steel industry get its systems talking to one another and increase plant efficiency.

The addressable market in Canada for BEA and its competitors is worth more than US$200 million, according to Gartner.

Stuart Charlton, BEA Canada’s enterprise architect strategic consulting services, said the company is finding a market for helping organizations transform and optimize themselves through technology and better business practices.

BEA’s product portfolio, which also includes Tuxedo, a platform for unlocking enterprise legacy applications and extending them to SOA, tries to ensure reliability.

“It is not going to fail,” Charlton said. “If it does fail you have well understood models to recover. It is very scalable. It performs and you can manage it in your data centre.”

Areas of interest
For potential BEA channel partners, the product portfolio carries margins of up to 30 per cent.

But BEA is also turning its attention to other markets, such as RFID.

The company recently signed a strategic alliance with HP to provide standards-based RFID solutions for the retail, manufacturing and transportation industries. This comes on the heels of BEA’s release of an RFID edition of WebLogic.

BEA is taking WebLogic into new areas such as IP telephony and Linux.

Charlton said these new areas could be a boon for the channel.

“Our approach to SOA is sensible. We do not want to boil the ocean. We do not want to dust off 100 consultants. Our idea for SOA is it is an IT strategy to get more agility and flexibility with IT,” he said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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