MySQL's Zack Urlocker published an article called Sitting Duck, which gives you a great 13-point checklist to figure out if your company is screwed. If you do a quick analysis you can predict a bit of the future and also use hindsight to figure out if the company's strategy went sideways.
In light of all the hub-bub around Oracle trying to acquire BEA let's take a quick pass and see if the company is flailing based on a few of Zack's points.
Is everyone in your market having trouble?
No. In fact the application server/middleware/SOA space is growing at an alarming rate. The fact that Oracle wants BEA means that they see more opportunity that can be exploited and that they are more capable of generating dollars than BEA is with that product set. If we agree that BEA is struggling, they seem to believe it's because of their cost structure and not their products. Which leads to...
Is your company obsessed with cost cutting?
Yes. According to several reports (WSJ, etc.) BEA chose to try and cut costs rather than reduce prices or do clever things like go open source to leverage their community of users.
Do customers complain that your products are too complex?
Yes (though Oracle won't solve this issue.) One of the key drivers of JBoss vs. Weblogic is that it is much easier to use. One should argue that Weblogic has more features and functions but in relation to the difficulty (and cost) it probably doesn't matter to at least half of the buying universe. This is a trap that many vendors in the middleware space have fallen into. I dare you to install Tibco or an Oracle database.
Is your company strategy zig-zagging every six months to catch some new wave?
Maybe. Maybe it's because I follow BEA that I get a bit confused. The majority of their messaging is about SOA and the Aqualogic product lines, but their main cash machine is Weblogic. Then today I saw a press release all about mainframes. This confusion sends a mixed message to the market and to customers who expect one thing but maybe get another from the vendors.