IBM Bridges Gaps in WebSphere Apps

In response to growing interest in and deployment of Web services and similar business process technologies, IBM has announced new software and services designed to make IT infrastructures more modular and flexible.

IBM said it wants to help its customers build “service-oriented architectures” (SOAs) — sets of business processes that rely on reusable, standard interfaces to integrate applications internally as well as with external suppliers and customers.

The company described Web services as a prime example of an SOA because Web services provides a means for companies to create connections for specific business processes. To help customers with SOAs, Big Blue is drawing upon resources across its various divisions to introduce new software and services offerings, such as: a new WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation; IBM Assessments for Services Oriented Architectures; and Strategy and Planning for Service Oriented Architectures.

“Web services is the primary source, but it could be other types of messaging and querying that are possible,” IBM spokesperson Ron Favali told TechNewsWorld. “It’s really anything related to business processes that can be componentized.”

Ready for Change

IBM said its new software and services are aimed at replacing companies’ reliance on the sort of hard-wired connections between applications and the outside world that are often inflexible to change.

“Customers are starting to focus more on business processes, and business processes can change on a regular basis,” Favali said. “A flexible IT infrastructure will allow customers to respond to those business process changes at a more rapid pace.”

Yankee Group senior analyst Dana Gardner told TechNewsWorld that three things have illustrated IBM’s SOA strategy: the new WebSphere platform and tools; educational initiatives that highlight the various stages of Web services and SOA; and professional services to help businesses get them going.

Services from Experiences

Big Blue said it will offer an Application Renovation and Integration for SOAs to determine legacy value and enable companies to restructure for SOA. For that purpose, the company announced Component Business Modeling to map business processes and break them into disparate activities to improve implementation.

The company said it also will offer advice to customers that already have embarked on an SOA or Web-services path. Favali noted that each of the new services is based on work IBM has done with real customers and should prove valuable to other companies.

Asserting Leadership

For his part, Gardner said the SOA announcements are significant because IBM is asserting its leadership and dominance in applying IT to “the abstractness of business processes.”

“This is pretty significant, and it pulls together some of the products and initiatives they’ve been working on for a long time,” he said.

He also called the software and services announcement comprehensive and added that it may be the fruit of the Web-services interoperability security and choreography partnership announced by IBM and Microsoft last fall.

Strength from Standards

Although the SOA approach has been around for some time, IBM’s open standards-based approach is new, Favali said. He indicated that emerging Web-services standards, such as a recent OASIS-endorsed WS-Security specification, are making the technology more appealing to more companies.

“There is a significant mass of standards that have come out of the standards bodies that are really starting to spur adoption,” he said. “There are enough industry standard specifications that customers are deploying these kinds of open technologies.”

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