IBM rolls out SOA products

In its second service-oriented architecture blitz of the year, IBM has detailed a range of products and services aimed at helping companies extend their service-oriented architecture deployments.

Six months ago, IBM released 11 new SOA products, 20 product upgrades and eight new service offerings. This time around, IBM delivered four new products, 23 product upgrades and 11 new service offerings.

Among the new products is WebSphere Registry and Repository (WSRR), which lets users publish and find services and related metadata. The software can be linked to a company’s existing registries and repositories to create an aggregate view of available application resources. Additionally, WSRR manages role-based access to components and keeps tabs on service dependencies and the impact of service introductions, deletions or alterations.

IBM also unveiled WebSphere Business Services Fabric, which is based on assets IBM gained in its August acquisition of Webify Solutions. The technology platform consists of prebuilt SOA assets, semantic models and policies that can be used to create industry-focused SOA products. It supports a range of industry standards, such as the insurance industry’s ACORD standards. IBM says it will make industry-specific services — such as claims processing in insurance, or regulatory compliance in healthcare — available through its SOA Business Catalog, a repository of IBM and business partner-developed SOA software assets. IBM focused a number of product upgrades on business process management capabilities. A new release of WebSphere Business Modeler includes tooling designed to more easily identify process bottlenecks and inefficiencies before they impact corporate performance.

IBM built business activity-monitoring features into the new release of WebSphere Business Monitor, while the latest release of WebSphere Process Server bolsters support for human-centric processes. On the professional services front, IBM unveiled offerings aimed at SOA security, service management and virtualization. Newly formalized security-planning engagements tackle issues such as managing user identity and access control, securing transactions across multiple distributed systems, and developing consistent security management policies.

The management-focused services are intended to complement IBM’s Tivoli software portfolio, which includes the new Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database along with Tivoli Composite Application Manager for SOA, which helps IT staff isolate Web service performance problems. The new products and services help close gaps in IBM’s SOA lineup, says Tracy LeGrand, chief architect and vice-president of technology, strategy and architecture at Ameriprise Financial. The financial advisory firm — which split from American Express a year ago — built an SOA to link its 11 lines of business. Ameriprise started its migration to an SOA in 1999, using WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Business Integration software as its message-routing backbone.

As a fairly early SOA adopter, Ameriprise has had to deal with gaps in IBM’s product lineup — which today the vendor is working to fill, LeGrand says. “What IBM is doing, at least in our view, is enhancing their products to cover spaces where we had to bring in alternative products to fit,” he says. In the past, “we became the integrator whenever it was IBM and non-IBM products.”

Ameriprise could benefit from additions such as enhanced BPM capabilities and the Webify-inspired WebSphere Business Services Fabric, LeGrand says. He’s also interested in IBM’s new registry product, WSRR. “We’ve had a registry of our own, both built into the IBM hub that we bought years ago, as well as a separate registry we’ve had to maintain. So this has closed some major gaps for us.”

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