IBM research projects cover SOA, Web 2.0

Big Blue showcases a broad range of research efforts

IBM showed off research efforts in a number of areas, including SOA, wikis, and mashups, at its IBM Silicon Valley Lab last week.

Technologies on display leveraged concepts like social networking, collaboration, and Web 2.0. Security and healthcare systems also were on display. The 26 projects viewed were in various stages of development, ranging from incubation to actual availability.

In the SOA area, IBM's Request Driven Provisioning technology provides a framework to offer business services in an SOA. It combines automated systems with business processes for the purpose of end-to-end IT service delivery. Services are provisioned based on user requirements, said Willy Chiu, IBM vice president for High Performance On Demand Solutions in the company's Software Group.

"What we're doing is allowing a business unit to define its requirements for a complete SOA system that would have taken months to install and now it takes hours," said Chiu.

The technology is available as a service offering that leverages IBM's WebSphere, Tivoli, Rational, and other product lines. DB2 provides for data storage.

Also in SOA, IBM touted Sonoma, which is a Web-based capacity planning tool. To be offered through a Saas (software as a service) model, it will enable customers to size SOA-based workloads to meet future performance and scalability requirements. Sonoma is the latest version of the company's OPERA (On Demand Performance Advisor) tool for capacity planning.

Sonoma serves a subset of RDP for SOA planning only and is configured as a Web service, Chiu said.

He stressed that IBM was not in the application space. "Our job is to enable applications," said Chiu.

IBM brought customer Jeremy King, eBay's vice president of engineering and application architecture, onstage to tout eBay's collaboration with IBM.

Noting eBay's 212,000,000 registered users and its massive infrastructure, King said that if eBay were a country, it would be the world's fifth largest, behind China, India, the United States, and Indonesia. King cited WebSphere as being of particular usefulness at eBay.

"In the end, what really made the difference was IBM's understanding of the service that we would need," King said.

After discussions by IBM executives, attendees were free to check out the various research efforts. Projects demonstrated under the umbrella of social networking, collaboration, and Web 2.0 included:

  • Information Factory, a portal-based system for organizing feedback from customers. Wikis, blogs, social networking, and tagging tools are used to accelerate collaboration.
  • Koala, a social engineering effort allowing non-programmers to easily automate processes on the Web in a collaborative environment using wiki-like collaborative authoring and semantic Web annotation. Reusable procedures can be developed and reused by recording keystrokes and clicks as a user completes a task.
  • Fringe, transforming IBM's internal directory into a corporate social networking site. Activities and relationships can be organized around people and experiments with the application of social networking and tagging principles.
  • QEDwiki (quick and easily done wiki), an enterprise mashup tool that makes it easy for non-technical persons to build Web-based applications that blend company data with outside Web services.
  • Mashups for the Enterprise, which are applications developed to solve a situational business problem by integrating Internet/intranet data and services using lightweight Web 2.0 technologies. IBM Travel Maps is an example of this concept.

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