IBM bolsters WebSphere app server

With an eye toward helping businesses integrate, grow and manage Web software and services, IBM Corp. last month enhanced the programs that support its flagship WebSphere applications server.

The new programs run in conjunction with IBM’s WebSphere 4.0 Server program, released in June. The enhanced programs, Enterprise Edition 4.0, WebSphere Edge Server and Site Analyzer, promise to help customers better integrate disparate applications, more effectively analyze browsing behaviour and improve overall Web site performance.

WebSphere Enterprise Edition 4.0 features a new set of snap-on modules that would integrate disparate enterprise applications such as SAP’s customer relationship management programs and IBM’s CICS transactions.

The modules also let users integrate ActiveX, C++, Corba and non-Java applications. The package includes a tool called Business Rule Beans that lets businesses tweak and reuse software without rewriting entire sections of code.

WebSphere Enterprise Edition also includes the ability to identify which country users are logging on from, displaying the appropriate time zone, currency conversion and language for customers.

IBM says the idea is to help users coordinate multiple transactions that support Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and popular Web services standards to process e-business communications more effectively.

Edge Server 2.0 features load-balancing capability that lets users distribute application workload evenly across IBM Web servers on a network. Here, IBM is hoping to bolster Web site availability and performance. Edge Server prioritizes traffic and implements quality of service based on what content is being accessed.

Finally, Site Analyzer 4.0 will let businesses trace and more effectively analyze customer behaviour on their sites.

IBM is trying to catch up to BEA Systems, while keeping a leg up on other companies also clamouring for application server customers. According to a Giga Information Group study, revenue of J2EE application servers totalled US$1.58 billion in 2000.

Pricing for WebSphere Enterprise Edition 4.0 is US$35,000 and US$20,000 per CPU for Site Analyzer.

IBM’s Edge Server starts at US$10,000.