Finally, Larry has got out his wallet and made a bid for BEA( which of course they have rejected). This one has been waiting to happen for several years. Oracle's experience with app servers hasn't been entirely happy - but after a slow start they have managed to steamroller their way to a decent market share (often on the back of Oracle Apps); meanwhile most of the (often less well funded) pioneers have fallen by the wayside. Who remembers Persistence? Gemstone? Whatever happened to Sun's variously named products?
So who's left now? Oracle, IBM, BEA; MS IIS for the Netties, and a handful of low/no cost options led by JBoss (aka Red Hat).
Buying BEA presents an interesting marketing challenge in the J2EE app server area - though at least Oracle only has one app server at a time. Thing are much more exciting (ie confused) in the integration / add-ons market; Oracle Fusion is already in a state of upheaval, digesting bits and pieces from Siebel, Sunopsis, Hyperion and others. Throwing in BEA AquaLogic - which itself combines organic development and some BEA acquisitions, I seem to remember - will be "interesting" to say the least.
And don't forget other jewels at BEA. Tuxedo - a real piece of engineering - something Oracle could usefully combine with the best of its own server technology; and JRockit - a high performance JVM.
For those who hate acquisitions, remember: BEA bought in both JRockit (from a startup) and Tuxedo (originally developed at AT&T, bought in 1995)... and come to that, WebLogic itself (in 1998).