IBM eyes education as means to Web services

Hoping to build momentum for its WebSphere environment through business partners, IBM Corp. on Monday rolled out an initiative it believes will increase the development of Web services based on the middleware product as well as an on-line training "e-lab."

IBM announced that Computer Generated Solutions (CGS), an IT-oriented services company, will work with IBM Learning Services to launch what officials claim is the first online virtual WebSphere Innovation Center.

Described by company officials as a knowledge portal, the new site will provide programmers with online tutorials and access to e-labs that offer hands-on training using remote hardware and software running WebSphere.

There will be training scenarios, according to company officials, that will be coupled with "e-tutors" to provide programmers with education that focuses on real-world situations such as integrating multiple applications to work as one.

Online training scenarios might include the integration of legacy applications to the Web, such as using WebSphere MQ Sphere in order to allow legacy applications to communicate with Java Enterprise Edition 2.0 systems. Another would be using WebSphere Portal Server to act as the font-end for legacy applications with portlets and WebSphere MQ.

The other part of the overall initiative, WebServices on WebSphere (WOW), is due to kick off sometime during this year's second quarter.

WOW will be lead by an advisory council that includes software developers such as Rational Software Corp., Versta, digitalESP Inc., Wily Technology Inc., Cacheon Inc., Epicentric Inc., Borland Software Corp., Perficient Inc., and Macromedia Inc.

IBM officials Tuesday said they expect that more than 150 business partners to be integrally involved by year's end. Both IBM and those business partners will work in concert to give customers the tailored combination of applications and Web services needed to meet the needs of their individual projects.

"The goal of this is to create a business partner community capable of promoting and enabling the deployment of Web services technology," said Craig Donato, president and CEO of Grand Central, in San Francisco.

As part of the program IBM will send technical experts to selected business partner sites to evaluate their IT infrastructure. These experts will help them understand how to best adopt Web services to their business, including the deployment, performance, management, and authentication of them, company officials explained.

IBM will also help partners identify potential revenue streams from Web services as they change over from a one-time licensing fee model to a fee based on transactions or subscribers.

Partners can share information including early standards disclosures, product plans, and various joint activities with users, in order to help them identify business opportunities and customer leads.

As part of the initiative IBM will establish the Virtual IBM WebSphere Innovation Center, which will offer members a range of different support services, sales enablement, education, and technical resources, according to company officials.

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