IBM Adds Adapters, Security for Integration Portfolio

NEW YORK — IBM Tuesday moved to fill some holes in key segments that some analysts said needed filling, adding business adapters to its WebSphere business integration platform to lure more customers in electronics, automotive, energy and new healthcare markets.

The company also released a new, security-oriented version of its MQ message broker and bundled Lotus and WebSphere Portal software more closely. The announcements came during a media event for IBM’s WebSphere Business Integration, a portfolio geared to compete with products from other integration players such as webMethods , Tibco , and even Microsoft .

The news was preceded by a more general presentation about IBM’s business integration strategy by Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM’s Software Group, who aimed to clear up some misconceptions about e-business on-demand.

Most notably, he said, IBM’s e-business on-demand is not about technology, but about business integration. That is,
connecting business end-to-end across a company with partners suppliers and customers, and possessing the ability to act speedily to deliver an upgrades a customer needs on the fly.

“I keep reading it’s about utility computing and adaptive infrastructure,” Mills said. “It’s not about that. Those have to do with the type of technology that is employed. E-business on-demand is our strategy for integration. It’s a state of business.”

IBM’s news Tuesday addressed different issues and problems that software industry analysts have raised recently. According to Meta Group’s Dan Sholler and AMR Research’s Eric Austvold, customers had complained to them about a lack of integration between WebSphere Business Integration and other brands, such as Tivoli. Both issues were clearly addressed Tuesday.

IBM’s competitors such as Oracle or Microsoft often argue that IBM makes technology issues so complex for customers that they need to hire IBM’s Global Services arm in order to implement such solutions, which can add more to a customer’s IT bill.

Mills also addressed integration issues that were raised by Oracle’s recent $5.1 billion bid to acquire PeopleSoft and then to migrate PeopleSoft customers to its own applications. Mills called the approach “absurd” and an example of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s current thinking, which he described as something that doesn’t work. He said it’s the view that “if all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.”

“Integration is labor-intensive,” Mills said, noting that if Oracle and other competitors are suggesting IBM should cut the labor down, he doesn’t think anyone buys into that theory.

“We’re selling technology to customers and applying labor as needed. It costs more money to buy labor to implement the applications than the actual PeopleSoft applications.” Mills argued that IBM’s philosophy is to integrate and federate data than to rip and replace legacy systems.

Mills also made some general comments about the economy as it impacts the IT industry, noting that businesses today are more worried about the bottom line today, whereas, the top line was the focus a few years ago. Mills said he expects consolidation to continue in the software integration space, and that strong integration suppliers will do well because “they will focus on customers needs” and “demand is unabated.”

The business integration particulars

To advance that strategy, Paraic Sweeney, vice president of marketing,
WebSphere Business Integration, announced that Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM has written 50 new software adapters to help companies automate business processes and port to packaged applications, such as those offered by PeopleSoft, SAP or Siebel, mainframes and business partners, among others.

Moreover, IBM’s complete line of adapters, now numbering 350, completely connects with the company’s WebSphere Application Server 5. These middleware tools, which serve as glue to connect disparate software systems together, also fully connect with WebSphere business integration servers. Sweeney said the company plans to roll out adapters for CORBA , Exchange, Lotus Domino, iSeries, among others July 31. Pricing is 75,000 per instance of adapter use, or under the new pricing scheme, $150,000 for an entire cycle of use. So, for example, 5 instances of SAP would cost $150,000.

Sweeney also said IBM has tied one of its key security management products from its Tivoli line to the underpinning messaging infrastructure for WebSphere business integration, known as the WebSphere MQ message broker.
The new product, WebSphere MQ Extended Security Edition version 5.3, merges MQ with Tivoli Access Manager for Business Integration to make exchanging data across different operating systems — such as Linux to Windows — more secure for users. With it, users no longer have to hardwire security onto their systems.

As the lynchpin to making IBM’s business integration software go, WebSphere MQ works with more than 35 different operating systems, including Linux, Windows and AIX. Features of this new software include individual messaging encapsulation, a queue-level data protection policy with options for digital signatures, and message privacy; instant access to data; and security compliance audits, where audit records confirm that data has not been modified. Unauthorized access attempts are logged as well.

Great premiums are being placed on such security, as companies want to be able to exchange important data from one business’s platform to another without compromise. Tivoli, which recently upgraded its Risk Manager to become more on-demand-friendly, has been leading that charge for IBM as the company’s management software brand.

Lastly, Sweeney introduced Lotus Workplace, a new IBM push for
next-generation collaboration. The initiative calls for Lotus software to be more tightly bundled with WebSphere Portal, which the company positions as the window pane view into a network. Lotus Workplace Messaging was the first product released under the auspices of this strategy last month.

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