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RealTime IT News

IBM Puts Its SOA Where Its Virtualization Is

IT analysts have been saying for the last few years that companies can leverage greater computing efficiencies by plugging virtualization technologies into a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

IBM is ushering virtualization to the SOA altar this week by splicing virtualization capabilities from its System p servers with SOA middleware to help customers boost hardware and software performance and ease maintenance pain.

Virtualization enables IT administrators to run multiple pieces of software on a single machine.

IBM employs virtualization in its System p servers, which allows a single machine to be split into multiple partitions, which can each run different operating systems and multiple applications. This helps customers shift processing resources during periods of peak activity.

SOA is a distributed computing paradigm that allows multiple services and software to be reused, making computing more efficient. Plugging virtualization into an SOA, then, makes sense. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

IBM will start offering System p Configurations for SOA Entry Points to allow processing resources to be shifted from one partition to another on the fly to meet peak demand needs. IBM's System p machines run IBM's AIX and Linux operating systems on the same box.

IBM is also offering an optional High-Availability Cluster Multiprocessing (HACMP) program to give companies fail-over protection to keep systems up and running, said Scott Handy, a vice president in the Systems & Technology Group for System p servers.

The SOA configurations will include different flavors of IBM WebSphere, Tivoli and Information Management software, as well as a detailed reference architecture for customers or business partners.

Handy said the entry points will get customers, who may have been reluctant to transition to SOA because changing architectures is "daunting and hard to get started," to dip their toes in the water.

If the entry points fly high on the Power-based System p machines, IBM could take them to its other server lines, including the x, i and z systems.

"I don't see this as a single point in time announcement but a rolling thunder and a series of things that will be rolling out through the year," Handy said.

The news comes as IBM is preparing for its first-ever SOA customer conference in Orlando this May.

SOA and virtualization, both expected to amount to multi-billion-dollar markets in the next few years, are also being sold by IBM  rivals, including Microsoft , Sun Microsystems , and BEA Systems , to name a few.