IBM debuts integrated tools for middleware portfolio

IBM yesterday announced the rollout of a single, integrated set of application development tools that can be used across its entire middleware portfolio.

WebSphere Studio is the standard tool for developing applications in an IBM environment, and IBM is now starting to release plug-in tools for its various middleware offerings.

The WebSphere Studio plug-in for Tivoli Systems inc. management software became available yesterday, and the plug-in for IBM eServer iSeries midrange servers will be available next month, according to Bernie Spang, director of WebSphere Studio marketing at IBM.

"We're addressing the developer pain of having to integrate separate tools," Spang said, noting that the new tools should help reduce the time and cost of developing applications.

Starting in the fourth quarter, plug-ins will be released for other IBM middleware products, including Lotus Domino, DB2, MQ Integrator Broker and the CrossWorlds business-process integration software.

"IBM is a company with a lot of tools, and this is their attempt to create a simple and more consistent workbench for developers," said Mark Driver, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

IBM's WebSphere tools are built on its Eclipse open-source platform, which enables developers to work from a single portal-like interface with a wide range of tools from IBM and other vendors.

Launched last year, the Eclipse project is managed by a consortium of vendors that includes Borland Software Corp., Fujitsu Software Corp., Rational Software Corp., Red Hat Inc. and Sybase Inc.

Driver said yesterday's announcement proves that IBM is delivering on its long-term tools strategy, which started with Eclipse, to provide a common infrastructure across all of its own tools. But, he said, Eclipse is also intended to serve as a unifying platform for Java tools from other vendors, and "you have to have a lot more momentum" before that happens. He added that the news marks "the first step in a long road to establish Eclipse as an important platform across vendors."

IBM announced yesterday that five vendors are ready for its validation program to ensure that their tools integrate with WebSphere Studio. Those five are Rational Software, Instantiations Inc., Merant PLC, Parasoft Corp. and Serena Software Inc. More information on the plug-ins is available at WebSphere Studio Plug-in Central.

Also yesterday, IBM announced that a beta version of its WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer product will be available next month for free download.

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