IBM previews future of WebSphere

Loosely coupled application services and grid computing are on the WebSphere road map, IBM Corp. officials report after the announcement of Version 5.0 this week.

Although the next upgrade is expected to arrive in about 18 months, the plan includes exposing components such as Enterprise JavaBeans as Web services, said IBM's Scott Hebner, director of marketing for the WebSphere Software Platform in Somers, New York, during an interview at the IBM developerWorks Live Conference in San Francisco this week.

"I would look for the continued evolution toward a services-oriented infrastructure, which means that the concept of an application becomes a series of loosely coupled services," Hebner said.

Developers in future iterations of WebSphere will not have to concern themselves with underlying technologies but can focus on services, provision, according to Hebner. Version 5.0, detailed this week, "is a step in that direction," he said.

The plan is for future iterations of the application server to more effectively use computing resources in a network by treating those as services, he said. The next version of WebSphere will begin to incorporate grid computing capabilities such as those from the Globus Project, Hebner said.

Interoperability with systems such as a BEA application server also will be made easier if both vendors implement grid standards, according to Hebner.

"If both [vendors] implement these grid standards over time, the promise for the customers is both could mix those [systems] and share resources," said Hebner.

More interoperability between Java-based and Microsoft .Net-based Web services also is anticipated, he said.

"Our strategy is to be inclusive," Hebner said. WebSphere itself is written in the Java programming language.

WebSphere Version 5.0 is intended to provide a complete Web services infrastructure for easier deployment of these services internally and externally to customers and business partners.

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