RealTime IT News

IBM Brings POWER to the People

IBM is expanding its outreach program to Linux developers on its 64-bit architecture and updating old and new development languages to meet the demands of Web services and services-oriented architecture technology.

Software demos, a collaboration portal and training documentation, went up on IBM's beefed up POWER microprocessor architecture development site this week, while WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer 5.1.1 and COBOL 3.3 were also announced.

Geared towards IBM customers, independent software vendors (ISV) and business partners on the Linux platform, officials at the Armonk, N.Y.-based IT giant have been steadily beefing up support on its developerWorks site, a community forum where programmers can improve on the developing applications for the 64-bit eServer iSeries and pSeries servers. Support is also available for the Apple G5.

According to Kathy Mandelstein, IBM program director of worldwide developer programs, the 7,500 Linux applications created since Big Blue adopted the open source technology bodes well for future development on the POWER architecture.

"We got a lot of very positive feedback from the development community," she said. "We've been progressively adding resources and will continue to see that over the next several months."

An IBM spokesperson said the company doesn't know of any POWER-based applications on the market to date. Analysts expect them to start cropping up in mid-2004.

IBM has put a lot of emphasis the past year on the POWER5 chip architecture announced last October.

The next-generation chip technology uses virtualization -- called multithreading at IBM -- to run multiple operating systems on one processor and allow administrators to configure 64 physical processors before clustering.

One of the more alluring features of the POWER architecture is that it's 64- to 32-bit backwards compatible, so programmers making applications to take advantage of the new 64-bit computing power can also run it on industry mainstay 32-bit servers and vice versa.

Also featured on the new developerWorks site is an evaluation kit to create custom POWER chips in a simulated environment, geared for developers with an IA32-based server handy.

IBM also updated its WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer and COBOL , the second-oldest high-level programming language (after FORTRAN), yet most widely used around the world.

Enterprise Developer 5.1.1 features the ability to create component-based Web applications within a Web services or service oriented architecture environment.

Enterprise COBOL 3.3 gives programmers more functionality in z/OS, the mainframe operating system that can be used to launch Java-enabled applications. Enterprise COBOL has given legs to the decades-old procedural programming language by supporting Java syntax in the code. It's a boon for developers relying on programs developed years ago in COBOL that need to integrate with Java-based applications.

Also new to COBOL 3.3 is enhanced XML support; by adding the verb "GENERATE," programmers can now grab group and elementary data items from COBOL programs. Support for the new functions in the IBM Debug Tool for z/OS version 4 and for DB2 version 8 is is featured, too.