WebSphere To Expand To v5.x

SAN FRANCISCO — IBM reaffirmed its position in the IT universe with an unexpected announcement that it would update its WebSphere platform from version 4.1 to version 5.

During the opening keynote, John Swainson, a general manager for the company’s Application and Integration Middleware Division said IBM is currently working on its popular application software solution as well as its companion set of tools. The complete roll out is expected in the third-quarter of 2002.

“We are not here just to talk about he new bells and whistles; we are here to tell you that our solutions can help reduce your cost of integration. When we talk about integration we talk about a holistic environment,” said Swainson.

What is new for WebSphere is support for Web Services in the form of XML, SOAP and UDDI and open standards like Linux embedded in the code.

The new platform is also taking advantage of Java Messaging Service (JMS) and EJB 2.0 Message Beans. IBM said these additions are helping to simplify the transition from legacy systems to current platforms. The company is also folding in Java Management Extensions (JMX), which is a standard way of managing the J2EE environment to allow WebSphere data to Tivoli and third-party software.

WebSphere 5 will also ship with an embedded version of IBM Tivoli Access Manager (formerly Tivoli Policy Director). The company said this is designed for customers who prefer to use alternate authentication security solutions.

Swainson also said that IBM is updating its WebSphere Event Broker to version 2.1 and Business integration to version 4.1.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based industry giant is in town for its IBM Developer Works Live show. The company has dedicated a week here with the purpose of stimulating developers to help create the next “killer app” using its products. In fact, the show highlights three separate IBM platforms into one: WebSphere, Lotus and Tivoli. Some 4,000 developers from 42 countries are expected to attend.

The other main theme of the show has been “integration.”

IBM said its stats show some 40 percent of IT budgets are currently being spent on integrating legacy systems. The upgrade shouldn’t too difficult for the company considering most of the oldest systems in server rooms today belong to either IBM or a company acquired by them.

“Its not what is being purchased this year, it’s about decades of systems that were purchased before,” said IBM vice president Steven Mills. “Beyond that customers are telling us they need to make it all work together and they need a system to bring it all together.”

IBM is addressing this mostly with WebSphere 5. For example, the company said a client could use WebSphere to plug in an internal portal into a customer relationship management application and link to an ERP system.

Even before the show officially launched, this has been a great week for Big Blue. Gartner reported Tuesday that IBM surpassed Oracle in the database arena. An IDC report earlier this month said IBM passed BEA in software.

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