IBM keeps up WebSphere standards push

Trying to bolster its recent Web-based standards initiatives, including its Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI), IBM Corp. has made available early versions of a new Web development environment and toolkit that the company plans to integrate into WebSphere and other key middleware products.

The XML & Web Services Development Environment is designed to allow developers and corporate users to convert existing and new e-business applications into any number of Web-based services. The new Web Services Tool Kit allows developers to gain access to the APIs and run-time environments they need to deploy the Web services they create. The toolkit includes UDDI4J, a Java-based single-node UDDI server, and support for IBM’s XML & Web Services Development Environment.

Oracle joins UDDI consortium

Oracle Corp. has thrown its weight behind the on-line business-to-business directory formed by IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Ariba Inc. designed to help bring together developers interested in creating Web-based services and products.

Oracle decided to join the consortium, after some internal debate, because it felt the three founding members had made the processes to create the base technology less proprietary. The on-line database is centred on the Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) standard. In particular, Oracle felt that the founding members’ veto power, which could potentially enable a voting bloc over the other member companies, was not in the best interest of the standard. The UDDI group has resigned that power, Oracle has said. Oracle is not the only heavyweight that declined to join UDDI in the initial phases only to come on board shortly afterward. Similarly, Hewlett-Packard Co. had reservations about joining the group because it felt IBM, Microsoft, and Ariba were trying to tie the product too tightly to their own technologies. But HP was encouraged by the three founding members opening up the technical process to other companies’ contributions and recently joined the effort.

Red Hat Version 7 drops support of Sun’s Sparc

Decreasing demand by users has caused Red Hat Inc. to quietly drop support for Sun Microsystems Inc. Sparc processors in its latest Red Hat 7 Linux distribution.

Still supported by Red Hat 7 are chips from Intel Corp. and Alpha processors from Compaq Computer Corp. A spokesperson for Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based Red Hat confirmed the change, saying the company supports processors “where they see demand.” If market conditions among Sparc users change, Red Hat could eventually bring back Sparc support, the spokesman said. Red Hat released Version 7 of its Linux open-source operating system in September, adding support for Compaq Alpha processors last month.

Dell helps Eazel bring open source to desktops

Dell Computer Corp. recently signed an agreement to offer Linux software maker Eazel Inc.’s applications on laptop and desktop computers. Dell’s investment arm also made an investment in Eazel as part of measures designed to increase the adoption of Linux among PC users.

Even while it remains one of Microsoft Corp.’s biggest partners, Dell has become increasingly vocal in its support of the open-source Linux operating system. Dell said it will pre-load Eazel’s Nautilus file manager software on select machines along with links to other Eazel services. Eazel promotes its software as an easy-to-use version of Linux that could help bring the open-source platform into mainstream use. Eazel released the second beta of its Nautilus software in November, and plans to release the completed version in the first quarter of next year. Dell will start to offer the software with its PCs at that time.

IBM claims advanced encryption algorithm

The mathematicians at IBM Corp. have been hard at work, delivering to Big Blue a new algorithm that should provide increased network security.

Charanjit Jutla, a researcher at IBM, apparently invented an algorithm capable of performing both encryption and authentication functions in one, simultaneous step. IBM said the technology takes advantage of parallel processing hardware and reduces the time it takes to perform some security-related tasks by as much as 50 per cent. By accomplishing multiple tasks at once, the algorithm can reduce some of the workload of networks and devices. A handful of network infrastructure companies are already experimenting with the algorithm as a foundation for some of their security technologies, IBM said. IBM looks for the algorithm to be scooped up for securing Internet protocols, storage area networks (SANs), fibre optic networks and intensive e-business applications.

E-provisioning spec started

A new specification, known as ADPr (Active Digital Profile), is an XML-based schema designed to provide a vendor-and platform-independent exchange of provisioning information to allocate and deploy IT applications, devices, systems and services to employees, business partners and customers.

Analysts said companies can use ADPr to streamline access to provisioning and directories. As a result, users can build IT resources across organizational boundaries and typically incompatible software and hardware platforms. Acting as a kind of least common denominator, XML enables text-based dialogues among machines that have to negotiate the meaning of resources with one another, according to Frank Prince, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. “Because it’s based on XML, ADPr can create a standardized way of managing business processes on a fairly high level,” Prince said. There is a downside to using XML: Because it is text-based, it tends to be slower than certain APIs and binary transfers. Prince added XML performs well enough for most transactions, however.