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IBM's App Manager Gets Facelift

IBM expanded its updated WebSphere Application Server add-on for grid and autonomic computing management, officials said Thursday.

The capability to support a heterogeneous environment is one of many enhancements the company introduced in IBM WebSphere Extended Deployment 6.0 (XD), which is available today as a download and will be generally available on Aug. 30.

According to officials, the update delivers business value through the effective use of the company's existing IT infrastructure, its support for mixed workload and server types and support for new advanced data-caching capabilities.

With the updated capabilities, they said, customers can more effectively manage their resources by applying business values to particular transactions, prioritizing them without jeopardizing other important processes, in what they call the "business grid."

The software is an important component in IBM's push for grid computing in the enterprise.

Built for the WebSphere Application Server family, WebSphere XD manages individual applications in a server cluster, dictating how much resources are needed. If one application is experiencing a higher-than-normal surge in transactions, it will route the transactions to other application servers for processing by partitioning large jobs to other databases and processors.

The component is highly valued in several industries, such as financial services and retail, where there are peaks and valleys in online transactions. Administrators can set business-process logic to the software to give one process priority over others in the event of a surge in transactions, like an online sale.

"We recognize that not every business process must happen simultaneously, which is why WebSphere XD can help prioritize IT transactions based on business needs while maximizing existing resources and investments," Sandy Carter, IBM vice president of WebSphere strategy, channels and marketing, said in a statement. "The latest release of the software is continued evidence of our commitment to meeting and exceeding expectations and helping drive our clients' success."

Developers introduced a number of improvements to WebSphere XD, including: improved resource utilization through the use of WebSphere resources to run a variety of workloads and application types simultaneously; an ObjectGrid function to increase transaction speeds through distributed data caching; increased network management capabilities through real-time detection and correction of problems; and automated response, dictated by customer business logic processes, to surges and drops in workload needs.

WebSphere XD now lets administrators take advantage of the non-WebSphere application servers they have running in their enterprise networks. Version 5.1, introduced in June 2004, only supported Big Blue's application servers.

Built to run with the WebSphere Application Server, IBM officials said a limited-functionality version of WebSphere XD is available as well and called the WebSphere XD for mixed server environments.