"This announcement reinforces IBM's position at the vanguard of the Web services movement; it demonstrates that in addition to promoting and collaborating in the development of Web services standards, IBM is capable of delivering real technology that people can use today," said Gary Barnett, principal consultant with the Infrastructure Practice at Ovum. "This is something that puts the company well ahead of many of its rivals."
On the app server front -- a space that Gary Hein, analyst with The Burton Group, says is likely to see some of the fiercest competition from Web services tools providers -- IBM introduced WebSphere Application Server, Enterprise Edition v4.1. The app server runs on AIX, Solaris, Windows NT/2000, Linux (RedHat and SuSe) and HP-UX.
IBM said it also supports Informix database software, in addition to already supporting IBM's DB2. IBM said the app server is available at $35,000 per processor.
The app server is designed to integrate smoothly with the new configuration of WebSphere Studio, dubbed WebSphere Studio Application Developer Integration Edition v4.1. Based on Eclipse, WebSphere Studio is an application development environment, providing integrated development support for building J2EE applications with HTML pages, servlets, JavaServer Page (JSP) files and Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) components.
The new Integration Edition builds on that with graphical tools to build custom application adapters to integrate J2EE applications with back-end systems; visual flow-based tools that allow developers to visually define the sequence and flow of information between application artifacts such as adapters EJB components, Web services or other flows; and wizards to help build and deploy Web services out of adapters, EJB components, flows and other Web services.
In other words, IBM said developers can use the new Studio tools to "choreograph" applications using a drag-and-drop interface. Developers can use the tools to create a palette of applications that can be published as reusable Web services accessed by other applications.
The new edition of Studio will be available on March 28 at $5,999.
Integrate existing apps
IBM is hoping to gain the greatest traction through the combination of the app server and Studio. Together, the runtime and tool combination allows businesses to integrate existing enterprise applications through the development and deployment of application adapters based on the J2EE Connector Architecture (JCA) open standard, and adapt existing Microsoft, CORBA and C++ assets for use in the J2EE application server environment.
For example, IBM noted that a company using the app server and Integration Edition in combination can visually build a new production management application that connects to an existing order management system, checks internal inventory, and links to suppliers. Developers can do this by defining and modifying the logical sequence between these steps to suit their business needs. The applications could also be exposed as Web services to link with outside business partners.
"The whole point is productivity for the developer," said Scott Hebner, director of marketing for IBM WebSphere. "They don't have to become integration experts. They can really focus on building the application."
The final piece, and one of the most important and basic in terms of Web services, is the WebSphere UDDI. UDDI is a Web-based distributed directory that enables business to list themselves on the Internet and discover each other, similar to a traditional phone book's yellow and white pages.
The UDDI is essential to indexing Web services and allowing partners to locate them. IBM's UDDI is fully integrated with the WebSphere platform and runs on Linux and Windows NT/2000.
"It is priced attractively at zero," Hebner said. "This is a core piece of base Web services connectivity. UDDI has a very important role and we felt it needed to be available for download."
WebSphere UDDI is available here.
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