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SOAs Built Into WebSphere MQ's Brain

IBM upgraded its WebSphere MQ software in order to help businesses integrate disparate applications as the backbone for a service-oriented architecture .

The new WebSphere MQ 6.0 is designed to track the flow of information in a business and ensure its safe delivery. IBM said the software can pare the cost of maintaining custom or file transfer applications in order to exchange data between applications and systems. Usually, such proprietary work can suck up as much as a third of a company's IT budget.

These characteristics make MQ 6.0 a natural foundation for SOAs, which are distributed computing models that let developers combine new and existing assets, such as software code, to build Web services that help different machines communicate.

Businesses can use the new features in WebSphere MQ 6.0 to fashion an enterprise service bus (ESB), which glues the services in an SOA together, from a single workspace based on the Eclipse open source Java development platform.

MQ 6.0 has other new qualities that endear it to SOAs and Web services.

The product is now better integrated with the new Web services capabilities found in the Armonk, N.Y. company's CICS Transaction Server for e-commerce and WebSphere Application Server 6.0. The features allow businesses to configure and manage WebSphere MQ servers from a single console.

IBM also improved WebSphere MQ Workflow to meet the strong demands of an SOA. The new MQ Workflow lets users manage complex business processes, bringing information more quickly to people to allow them to make more informed decisions.

Application integration is important because it helps corporations manage several different platforms and trade information from various sources. Fluid software integration can help meet stringent compliance requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, which put the onus on corporations to retain data and recall it on the fly.

As Big Blue's flagship messaging integration software, MQ is a polished market leader and is used by more than 12,000 customers and partners worldwide. Banking firm Wachovia said in a statement it uses MQ as the foundation for its SOA and business partner Ultrametrics uses the software to build interoperable applications.

It is also one of the key drivers of revenue for IBM's WebSphere portfolio, which has helped the company dominate the application middleware market, according to Gartner.

IBM annually leads such competitors as BEA, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems in the total middleware market.

IBM also spruced up its integration offering for small- and medium-sized businesses with a new version of WebSphere Business Integration Server Express that features new software adapters. This product lets SMBs integrate software at an enterprise-level without paying top dollar.

IBM is targeting SMBs in part because it and many of its competitors have tapped out the mid- to high-level markets. But Big Blue, HP, Computer Associates and other rival vendors also want a big piece of the $360 billion pie IDC estimates SMBs will spend on IT this year.