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The Need for WebLogic Server

Although the Internet has been around for more than 30 years, the last 7 years have revolutionized how people obtain many services. During this time, Web applications have gone through distinct phases. Initially, Web sites were informational, providing content that changed occasionally. Companies were able to provide product support through online manuals and frequently asked questions. Being a brand-new method of communication, customers were very happy to have an alternative to busy signals and long wait times when attempting to call companies directly.

Over time, customers expected more (as users often do!) and interactive Web sites started springing up. They provided forms that users could fill out to request customer service, search Web sites, and take company surveys. As these Web applications became more powerful, the developers creating them became overwhelmed with the number of issues involved with creating applications on the Internet. Issues such as security and scalability had never been dealt with on the level required for these new kinds of applications.

Once again, users are expecting more and companies are required to meet their demands. Customers want to be able to bank online, buy and sell stock through their Web browser, and see their account information in real time. To create these kinds of applications, developers must connect to existing mainframe applications, corporate databases, and enterprise information systems (EIS). They must be able to create applications that span multiple machines containing diverse operating systems and hardware architectures. Companies need to create Web applications that are always available to their customers despite hardware failures and scheduled maintenance. Not only do these applications have to be accessed from a Web browser, but must now be accessed by various clients running on different platforms written in several languages from small devices such as cell phones to nongraphical aggregator applications not intended for humans.

Many firms have had Internet divisions for some time—groups of developers and engineers assigned to creating Internet content and keeping the Web site running. These groups operate autonomously from the corporate IT division responsible for internal information management. These two groups of individuals have historically co-existed without having to utilize each other's resources.

Today's Web applications require these groups to work together to provide internal corporate information to customers, suppliers, and partners in a secure, user friendly, and stable environment. Providing services such as e-commerce, supply chain management, customer relationship management, and personalization is causing IT departments around the world to reorganize and reassess their internal skill sets.

In addition to providing services to their customers, companies are realizing the power of the Internet for their own internal uses. Enabling their employees to use the Web for common tasks such as entering work requests, signing up for upcoming educational classes, and checking on health benefits have saved companies millions of dollars.

What originally began as an ad hoc method of providing services over the Internet has now become the standard way of doing business for many companies. BEA WebLogic Server was created to power this new breed of Web applications and to assist developers in their efforts to deliver on the expectations of their company's customers, employees, partners, and suppliers.

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