IBM nudges back release of WebSphere 5.0

IBM has pushed back the release date for version 5.0 of its WebSphere application server, saying it "reprioritized" its schedule in order to bring related development tools to market more quickly. Analysts said the one- to two-month delay shouldn't be seen as a big setback.

IBM said in a statement in May that it would deliver WebSphere Application Server Version 5.0 by the end of September. It pitched the product as an integrated development environment that can span portals, application workflows and wireless applications. It will also support version 1.3 of the J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) standard and other enhancements intended to make it easier to build and deploy Web services.

IBM now expects to deliver the new product by the end of November, said IBM spokesman Steven Eisenstadt. Its customers are keen to get their hands on a corresponding upgrade to IBM's WebSphere Studio tools so it decided to adjust its delivery schedule and get that product out the door first, he said.

"Typically in the past the runtime is delivered first and then the tools follow 30 to 60 days later. This time we turned it around so the tools will be coming first," he said.

The new version of WebSphere Studio will be released in September, including a beta version of the new application server runtime. General availability for WebSphere Application Server Version 5.0 is now scheduled for 30 to 60 days after that, Eisenstadt said.

Mike Gilpin, a research fellow with Giga Information Group Inc., said IBM wants to emphasize ease of development by delivering the tools upgrade first. It's also possible that the WebSphere team needed more time to test and debug the product across multiple platforms, he said.

"I think these things are relatively par for the course, especially for complicated products with a lot of people involved," said Shawn Willett, a principal analyst at Current Analysis Inc., in Sterling, Virginia.

WebSphere 5.0 is IBM's response to WebLogic Application Server 7.0, released earlier this year by IBM rival BEA Systems Inc. Both products include support for J2EE 1.3, as well as new integration, portal and Web services capabilities.

The slight delay on IBM's part could influence some customers who are weighing up the two products, Gilpin said. However, he noted that enterprises are often too cautious to adopt new products as soon as they are released anyway, unless there's a feature they're particularly keen to get hold of.

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