IBM today announced upgraded versions of its WebSphere software and support offerings. Big Blue hopes its WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Business Integration (WBI) Server Express software will help the company get deeper into the small and medium sized business (SMB) market.
Scott Cosby, program director of WebSphere product management, told TechNewsWorld that the new versions, which are two years in the making, are based on feedback from thousands of customers.
“We improved the administration and manageability by putting the entire user interface into the Eclipse-based framework,” Cosby said. “That hits to developer productivity as they move from one software tool to another. We’ve also added the ability to send and receive via the familiar FTP paradigm and user interface and offer improved platform support and connectivity to backend mainframe systems.”
Reducing Costs in High Growth Markets
Big Blue’s decision to target small businesses makes sense with SMB representing one of the largest and fastest growing opportunities in an IT industry in which IDC projects companies will spend US$360 billion in 2005. IBM designed its new WebSphere versions to help SMBs and large businesses alike control costs for home-grown integration solutions.
IBM said the new version of WebSphere MQ helps reduce the costs of ongoing support for manual coding and file transfer and point-to-point solutions to exchange data between business applications and systems.
The new version of WBI Server Express includes new adapters that integratewith existing applications, improved business flexibility using wizard-driven business rules, and simplified Web-based remote deployment, according to the company.
The SOA Trend
Forrester vice president and research director Mike Gilpen told TechNewsWorld that the new versions are one more step toward service-oriented architecture (SOA), a drum that IBM has been beating for the past two years. SOA is essentially a collection of services that communicate with each other.
“SOA is genuinely a hot trend,” Gilpen said. “More than 50 percent of enterprises we surveyed say they are actively engaged in implementing service-oriented architecture. But there’s no single piece of technology that offers SOA.”
The Emerging ESB Standard
Cosby said the new software has opened up the backbone to SOA. “This new release is a transport mechanism that’s ready for the next generation of invocation methods,” Cosby said. “It offers the combination of the request reply paradigm with transport reliability of SOA messages.”
WebSphere MQ Version 6.0 also allows users to create an enterprise service bus (ESB) based on the Eclipse open-source Java development platform. ESB is a middleware standard for integrating enterprise applications using Web services standards including XML messaging and service oriented architecture.
Gilpen said IBM is aiming at the high end of the ESB market: large customers who have very complex requirements typically not met by off-the-shelf ESB products.
“The dominant messaging technology has always been MQ series — at least as long as it’s been an identifiable market segment,” Gilpen said. “IBM now delivers a much more integrated set of capabilities around WebSphere MQ for implementing what most people choose to call ESB.”