It’s Live! — WebSphere 5

As previously
announced
, IBM
took
its much ballyhooed new application server live Monday, packed with a
number
of advancements that are geared to appeal to IT workers seeking
advanced Web
services features.


As with its DB2 v8.1 package, launched
last week, Big Blue’s WebSphere Application Server Version 5 features
some
souped up Web service capabilities, as well as the company’s
self-healing,
self-managing computing capabilities.


Coupled with its WebSphere Studio Version 5 development environment,
WebSphere 5 aims to help enterprises integrate business processes to
make
transactions among vendors, suppliers and customers more fluid. The
linchpin
of the Armonk, N.Y. concern’s on-demand
computing
initiative, WebSphere 5 will serve as the universal
platform
for all of IBM’s on-demand software and will tightly integrate with
DB2,
Tivoli and Lotus, according to Stefan Van Overtveldt, Program Director
of
WebSphere Technical Marketing at IBM.


Van Overtveldt, who told the product is gunning for market share from
rivals
Oracle and
leader BEA , unveiled two new
features for internetnews.com.


The first is the Web Services Invocation Framework (WSIF), a technology
for
developing Web services across network and transport protocols, such as
HTTP
and instant messaging. The second, Axis 3.0, is a speedy Web services
technology that processes Web services SOAP requests three to four
times
faster than is currently possible.


IBM also spruced Web services support in the Web Services Gateway,
which Van
Overtveldt said provides a more secure
environment across the Internet; a private UDDI repository, which
allows a
company to search for combine Web services within their organization;
and
Web services workflow, for developers to build networked applications
that
link multiple business processes — such as checking approvals,
inventory,
credit and shipping – as Web services that interact with customers,
partners
and suppliers. WebSphere V5 is J2EE 1.3-certified and is ready to
support
the forthcoming J2EE 1.4 specification.


One analyst discussed the bolstered Web services abilities of WebSphere
5
with internetnews.com. Sue Aldrich, Senior Vice President and
Senior
Consultant for the Patricia Seybold Group, said the new software
provides a
number of proprietary but very useful infrastructure services that make
applications more manageable for developers and IT operations.


“The Web Services Gateway eases the firewall issues, by controlling the
message flow on both sides of the firewall and making the firewall
transparent,” Aldrich said. WebSphere also optimizes the invocation of
Web
Services, using a native call rather than a SOAP message when
appropriate
(ie, within the same server). This transparency also allows developers
to
use a more generic address for a request to a Web Service, avoiding the
problems of hard coding URL’s into their code – a terrible no-no that
most
teams start out doing, in order to simplify their early efforts.”


WebSphere 5 also enables any application in the network-from
Macromedia ColdFusion applications to new Java applications to legacy
COBOL
assets-to be easily generated as Web services that can be composed and
choreographed into new applications.


Building on the company’s autonomic
computing
prowess, Van Overtveldt said “we have made a server that
requires minimal involvement [for IT workers],” which helps
e-businesses
lower the cost of administration and improve response time.


WebSphere 5 offers new autonomic features, including self-configuring
features to boost responsiveness by tuning WebSphere for the best
performance, or even tuning specific applications based on how they are
being used. WebSphere can interact with Tivoli and DB2, to help make
the
system run better, and cuts the cost of database administration by
detecting, diagnosing and resolving problems related to data.


Toward the self-healing end, WebSphere can intuit problematic patterns
that
indicate future glitches while applications
are running so that IT workers can troubleshoot problems with real-time
diagnostics that build hooks into the system to capture information
when a
problem occurs the first time around, without having to recreate the
problem
for the system administrator.


Now available for download, prices for WebSphere 5 start at $8,000 for a
single server configuration or $12,000 to support clustering and
failover.
WebSphere Version 5 supports Windows, Linux, IBM eServer zSeries and
iSeries, AIX, Solaris and HP-UX.


To be sure, BEA isn’t taking the announcement lying down. BEA Systems
Chief
Marketing Officer Tod Nielsen proclaimed the new WebSphere shows that
IBM is
“still two years behind BEA WebLogic 7.0.”


“WebSphere 5.0 finally includes many features that BEA WebLogic
delivered at
least 2 releases ago,” Nielsen claimed. “Customers clearly recognize
the
superiority of the BEA WebLogic product line. For example, in the last
quarter alone, BEA won more than 325 head-to-head competitions against
WebSphere, including 56 accounts where BEA replaced the incumbent IBM.”


An IBM spokesperson dismissed BEA’s claims as a “reaction to WebSphere’s momentum.”


Oracle unleashed its latest 9i Application Server iteration two weeks
ago at
its OracleWorld conference. Like WebSphere 5, Oracle’s product heavily
features integration as a main selling point. It boasts of new business
process management tools, enhanced support for the J2EE Connector
Architecture (JCA) 1.0, Web services support for standard protocols
such as
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), RosettaNet, UCCNet and Health Level
7
(HL7).

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