IBM details next version of WebSphere app server

IBM further deepened its commitment to WebSphere as the center of its software development and integration strategies, formally announcing the next version of the applications server on Wednesday at its developerWorksLive conference here.

Company officials believe they have evolved WebSphere with Version 5.0 to serve as an integrated development environment that can span portals, application workflows, and wireless applications.

Chief among the capabilities of WebSphere Version 5.0 is what company officials described as a complete Web services infrastructure that reportedly will make it easier for corporations to deploy these services internally and to extend those capabilities externally to customers and business partners.

"We think this version will be all about helping to drive costs out from user's businesses as well as better integrating their tools, applications, and data across the breadth of an enterprise and outside of it," said John Swainson, General Manager of IBM Software Group's Applications and Integration Middleware business.

Another important feature relating to Web services is a built-in UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration)-supported directory that makes it easier for developers to register their newly created Web services, according to Swainson.

Swainson and other IBM executives on Thursday said a real strength of Version 5.0 is its ability to more easily allow programmers to develop and deploy new applications faster by integrating Web services and existing applications in a logical flow that can be customized to map to business processes.

WebSphere 5.0 contains new support for Business Rule Beans, which make it possible for business analysts to more dynamically update their business rules without having to go through and hand-code individual application changes. This helps reduce labor costs involved in creating more efficient processes, company officials said.

Version 5.0 also supports all of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) Version 1.3's interoperability features.

Stitched into Version 5.0 will be an embedded version of IBM's Tivoli Access Manager, which used to be called the Tivoli Policy Director. This will allow users to centralize their site-wide authentication and access control security into one repository that can then be fully extended across an infrastructure, said Robert LeBlanc, General Manager of IBM's Tivoli Software group.

"Tivoli is gravitating towards WebSphere technology where it will be able to automate many of the system's management and security activities," LeBlanc said.

In concert with the WebSphere 5.0 announcement, IBM unwrapped WebSphere Enterprise Modernization tools to help corporate and third-party developers to reuse their existing software as part of an e-business alternative to writing a Web application from scratch. The new tools will also make it possible for existing applications to be part of a developing Web services model.

Also on Thursday IBM rolled out WebSphere MQ Event Broker, designed to let businesses publish information to specific subscribers based on their individual profiles. The latest version of the product can deliver personalized information across an internal network, an Internet-based network, and to pervasive devices.

The company also unveiled the WebSphere Business Integration 4.1, a product designed for business process integration enabling users to carry out a range of business tasks associated with CRM (customer relationship management) and enterprise resource process in real time. It can also both integrate and simplify business processes using existing and proven technology, thereby quickening e-business projects, company officials said.

Expected to go into limited beta testing by the end of this month, Version 5.0 is expected to be available sometime this June or July, according to Swainson.

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