IBM addressing beginner, advanced SOA needs

Products are tweaked for service environments and Web 2.0 with added middleware for business processes and easier integration of legacy apps

With an SOA product rollout on Wednesday, IBM is looking to address needs spanning from basic to advanced deployments.

Featured are tools and software to get started with SOA, middleware to execute business processes, and SOA configurations to more easily integrate legacy applications. IBM is making the announcement at the Gartner IT Expo conference.

Customers are migrating to SOA, and IBM's efforts can help them get started, said Sandy Carter, vice president of SOA and WebSphere strategy at IBM.

"They're moving to SOA because it provides agility to the business and reduced cost to the IT team," she said.

To assist businesses start an SOA, IBM is offering its SOA Sandbox for free on the IBM developerWorks site. Sandbox features software trials and online environments where developers can get architectural guidance. Users could create services.

Rational Software Architect, which allows developers to develop Web services and SOA applications, is available for download and as an online trial as part of SOA Sandbox. A "quick start" guide in Sandbox provides instructions for installing core SOA software.

"Sandbox allows you to play with the technology. It allows you to interact with the experts," from IBM, Carter said. For example, assistance is provided on how granular a service should be.

Sandbox is a packaging move to make IBM's platform available at a lower cost and make it easier for developers to learn the company's SOA portfolio, said analyst John Rymer, vice president at Forrester.

"They've got such an enormous portfolio," Rymer said.

"They've done a heck of a lot of SOA engagements. In our estimation, they've done way more customer engagements than anybody else. Way more," said Rymer.

IBM as part of its announcement is supporting Web 2.0 capabilities included in the latest releases of WebSphere Commerce, WebSphere Business Monitor, WebSphere Message Broker and WebSphere Portal. Users can build applications, remix content, and more easily access services. Content can be mashed and services such as Web services can be accessed.

"We have enhancements to the consumability of our WebSphere portal," Carter said.

The company also is introducing IBM WebSphere Application Server Feature Pack for Web 2.0, connecting external Web services, internal SOA services, and Java objects into interactive Web application interfaces.

Another part of the announcement is an updated version of IBM's WebSphere Process Server, supporting long and short processes. Support for compensation is featured, in which processes can be recovered. IBM with its announcement is introducing a concept called "process integrity," in which a process can be rolled back if one step fails, Carter said.

WebSphere Message Broker, which is IBM's ESB (enterprise service bus), and MQ are being fitted with enhanced Web services support. Message Broker plays a role in process integrity in that the ESB can handle recovery issues. Tivoli Composite Application Manager for SOA, meanwhile, provides information on services flows across an SOA environment.

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