IBM intros updates and helps integrate

Integration is a top concern of enterprise IT managers according to IBM Corp., and it says the recent refresh of its enterprise software reflects that trend.

Up to 40 per cent of current IT spending – an estimated US$12 billion – is devoted exclusively to addressing business and application integration, said Steve Mills, general manager of IBM’s software group, quoting industry statistics. He made the comments during an address at IBM’s developerWorks Live show held recently in San Francisco.

Over the years, organizations have adopted a variety of proprietary and shrink-wrapped solutions, creating islands of infrastructure that hamper the effort to enable e-business across the organization and drive up the costs of maintenance.

In response, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM announced a number of enhancements to its line of software, based on its four product lines: the flagship WebSphere middleware suite, Lotus workgroup solutions, its data management offering DB2 and its Tivoli management software.

“We’re evolving the direction of this software family to be a complete infrastructure platform…to help solve the integration problems,” said John Swainson, general manager of application and integration middleware at IBM.

Foremost among them was the unveiling of WebSphere Application Server Version 5, designed to help companies link applications across internal and external systems. To address security concerns, Version 5 ships with an embedded version of Tivoli Access Manager. It’s also designed to help users seamlessly deploy Web services -the processes by which data and applications are made easily accessible over the Internet – a feature first made available in WebSphere 4.0.

Sharon Spriggs, senior program analyst, administration systems at the University of Ottawa’s Computing and Communication Service, said she attended developerWorks in hopes of learning more about WebSphere Studio Application Developer 4.0, and to get some hands-on education. She said IBM’s integration message hit home for her – Spriggs and her staff have run into problems in the past trying to integrate WebSphere Commerce Suite with IBM’s SecureWay LDAP.

But another show attendee, who is also just now deploying WebSphere Version 4, said integration isn’t a concern. “For a fair number of customers down there it was a big deal…it’s not a big issue for us right now,” said Chris Pentleton of Toronto-based Pentleton Consulting.

Currently Pentleton is working on a data mining project with Toronto Police Services called eCops (Enterprise Case and Occurrence Processing System) which allows TPS’ staff of 7,000 to search and share information on the road or at the station.

Other new products announced at developerWorks included: WebSphere Business Integration Version 4.1, which integrates technology from CrossWorlds Interchange Server; WebSphere MQ Integrator Broker and MQ Workflow to let customers speed the process of business integration, which runs on AIX, Windows 2000/NT and Solaris; and a number of additions to WebSphere MQ, in particular MQ Event Broker, which lets companies deliver personalized information to users based on their pre-set preferences. For more information, visit the company on the Web at www