IBM ‘Extends’ WebSphere for On-demand


Taking steps to make its WebSphere line gel even more with its e-business
on-demand strategy, IBM is writing new software that boosts
the performance of companies’ software and hardware to provide better
services.


Currently in beta, WebSphere Extended Deployment (XD) employs functionality
from the Armonk, N.Y., company’s mainframe line to handle unexpected spikes
in usage or changing market conditions.


The product covers such businesses as financial services companies — which
handle large loads of stock trades — as well as retail or auction businesses
that experience peaks and valleys in e-commerce volume.


Running on IBM’s WebSphere Application Server software, XD balances and
shares the workload among dozens of applications and hundreds of
application servers. It also allows IT resources to adjust on-the-fly, according
to Jerry Cuomo, CTO of IBM’s WebSphere Technology Institute, who added that
XD can provide businesses with double-digit boosts in network
performance and transaction processing speed, while paring costs.

The idea
for boosting the performance of WebSphere has its roots in the company’s
systematic push to
offer complex mainframe features, including “self-healing” or autonomic
computing and virtualization, into IBM’s software lines.


Like a mainframe, Cuomo said XD partitions large jobs over many processors and
databases, as well as application software and servers. For example, Cuomo
continued, XD features new technical components that differentiate among “classes
of work” or services, allowing users to set up policies to be deployed with
applications.


To do this, an “on-demand router” sits in front of WebSphere, enabling users
to differentiate work in a WebSphere cluster for the first time. XD can also
prioritize workloads based on importance, ensuring that a more important
transaction gets processed before one that is less valuable.


“Say you want to ensure in an electronic commerce system that items placed
in your shopping cart get priority over browsing catalog pages,” said Cuomo. “You want to
provide differentiated work or a class of services. This on-demand router
can classify work or make sure tasks are handled with high priority, one of
the things you were able to do on the mainframe.”


In concert with IBM Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, the new software
monitors the efficiency of the network, re-balancing and shuttling
unexpected workloads to underutilized hardware and software.


As a complement to the on-demand router and policy management, Cuomo said
IBM is introducing application virtualization into WebSphere with XD.


Noting that while application servers are usually static, he said IBM XD
allows programmers to create a resource pool of servers. A user could have
10 servers in that pool and have a stock-trading application run anywhere in
that pool deployed by a dynamic cluster.


“With this ability to manage this virtualized environment along with the
policy-based management, we start to address what we’ve been talking about
at IBM — this on-demand operating environment,” Cuomo said.


Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady said XD is IBM’s latest step along a path
that many software vendors — such as Microsoft , BEA
Systems and HP — are taking to build
next-generation architectures that align IT with business needs.


“XD, when delivered, will be a fundamental piece to build from,” O’Grady
told internetnews.com. “Whatever the term, next-generation
architectures will need to be less rigid in their construction to allow for
more fluid partitioning, reallocation, etc. XD is intended to deliver that
functionality.”


Overseen by Cuomo as a technology incubation effort in which IBM Research
collaborated directly with the IBM WebSphere product and development team,
WebSphere XD will be generally available later this year.

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