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IBM Offers XML Query Demo

Refusing to be shunted aside while Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. grab loads of attention for their Web services initiatives, IBM Corp. Thursday revealed its progress in bundling XML with its database software for data integration.

Big Blue calls the technology "Xperanto" and is currently offering a demonstration of it on its database software developer site. The move is rooted in the firm's push for Web services, which is the hottest trend to help multiple machines communicate with each to complete a variety of tasks. XML is evolving to meet such operational and business process automation. IDC expects the market for Web services to mushroom from 1.6 billion in 2004 to $34 billion by 2007.

In essence, Xperanto is part of IBM's information integration strategy to unify structured and unstructured data from sources such as relational databases, XML documents, flat files, spreadsheets and Web services. With Xperanto, users can access relational data as if it were XML data; view and query data across heterogeneous information sources; access real-time info and; search across text documents. It relies on a new XML query language devised by IBM, called XQuery.

IBM said it is offering a "federated" data management approach that lets customers search, access, analyze and aggregate data and pose queries. The new demonstration provides a scenario of how a newly-merged bank and financial services company could use XML standards as a single interface to provide one view of multiple databases to a customer and a different view of related information to a sales representative.

The progress is part of IBM's greater Web services strategy aimed at helping developers build and deploy new Web services applications with the Armonk, N.Y. firm's WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio development tools. IBM, which has offered varying degrees of XML support in DB2 since 1999, unveiled broader Web services support at the JavaOne Developer Conference in San Francisco on Monday.

IBM's biggest news to date regarding XML is its November 2001 partnership with Microsoft to create a Web Services Inspection (WS-Inspection) specification to define how an application can discover an XML Web service description on a Web server, enabling developers to easily browse Web servers for XML Web services.

In related news from Big Blue Thursday, the firm put the finishing touches on its new intranet practice, inking Campbell Soup Co. as its first customer win. Forged for the purpose of helping enterprises manage tasks within their corporate structures, the "e-workplace" initiative is geared to Web-enable certain business processes. While the notion of offering this to other businesses is new, IBM has had its self-created e-workplace system in place since 1998 and claims it helped save the company some $6.2 billion.