WebSphere version 5 hits the streets

With IBM’s announcement Monday of version 5 of its WebSphere Application Server, its user community will now find more integration across its hardware and software, while Big Blue continues to spread its e-business and Web services gospel.

Version 5 will offer greater integration with DB2, Tivoli and Lotus, as WebSphere will serve as the universal platform for all of IBM’s on-demand software.

The software supports Web services technologies and is J2EE 1.3 certified and the Web Services Gateway promises more manageability while securing the environment across the Internet by including a universal directory description index (UDDI) repository. This allows companies to search for Web services within their environment and build networked applications that can link several layers of the business process. It is a critical launch for Big Blue in that it ties many otherwise separate features of its offerings under one, a feat that has taken years to achieve.

“This has been a journey that WebSphere has been on for three and a half years and we’ve worked hard to integrate those capabilities,” said John Donaldson, WebSphere business unit executive for Canada in Toronto.

Not to be ignored is the expanded attention paid to grid computing and its capabilities in version 5. “As we look at e-business on demand and the availability to automatically access information, we’re building capability into WebSphere application server 5 to do a lot of self diagnostics or autonomic computing,” he said.

Over the past year, Donaldson said that in Canada, IBM has experienced a 19 per cent growth rate from its WebSphere application portfolio. Globally, the numbers were around 35 per cent for the large enterprise – yet, in Canada, and likely in the U.S. and around the globe, the small- and medium-sized businesses continue to frustrate vendors by refusing to join the e-business party.

Even though the prevailing hype and hoopla around e-business continues to circulate in a misty grey cloud, it remains a section of IT that continues to under-perform.

Really, all IBM has done with its latest announcement is signal that it has followed rivals Oracle Corp. and Microsoft in offering more integration within its own products. It’s not a move that will propel e-business into the IT limelight anytime soon, one analyst said.

“It’s an indication that the market for tools supporting e-business may be maturing to a certain extent, but it’s not an indication that the market for e-business itself is maturing (but) these offerings could lead the e-business market to grow,” Warren Shiau, software analyst at IDC in Toronto.

Big Blue and its two above-mentioned rivals all share one distinct advantage over their nearest competition in BEA. They all have their own database built in-house, making it infinitely easier to integrate and bundle their software offerings onto their databases.

“It just makes things easier for the user, and they don’t have to aggregate product lines from different vendors,” Shiau said.

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