IBM souped up its Java-based software offerings on Monday with a handful of new and updated products, including additions to its MQSeries messaging software family that support XML- and Java-based messaging.
The company also said it has released the alpha version of a Java virtual machine for Linux, and unveiled plans for a new release of SecureWay On-Demand Server, software used to deliver Web applications to users.
The announcements were timed to coincide with Sun Microsystems' JavaOne conference, which kicked off here yesterday.
Taken together, they further IBM's "e-business" strategy, which aims to help big companies use the Internet to exchange information internally and with other companies across different computing platforms, said Pat Sueltz, a general manager with IBM's Network Computing Software division.
At a briefing for press and analysts here, Sueltz said Java and the emerging XML (extensible markup language) will be equally important as companies redesign their computing environments to take advantage of the Internet.
"XML is growing faster than Java ... driven by all the activity surrounding the Web," she said.
One analyst said IBM is on the right track by making Java a pivotal part of its software strategy. Sun's technology has grown in the past year from "pre-pubescence to a late teenager," said Martin Marshall, a director with Zona Research in Redwood City, California.
"Java is the best thing that ever happened to IBM," Marshall said. "If Sun hadn't invented it, IBM would have."
When it comes to XML technology, however, Marshall said he is concerned that different standards will emerge, particularly as software powerhouses like IBM, Microsoft and others adapt the language for use by specific, vertical industries.
"I'm wary that the history of computing doesn't usually result in happy endings where everyone settles on the same standard," Marshall said.
Included in the announcements is support for XML across the MQSeries middleware, which IBM said will provide a bridge between applications that use XML and existing, heterogeneous computing systems. IBM has also introduced new Java APIs (application programming interfaces) for MQSeries, designed to make it easier for programmers to use the software.
The MQSeries enhancements will be available in the third quarter for most major platforms, IBM said.
New features in SecureWay On-Demand Server Version 2, meanwhile, include the ability for administrators to deliver applications across multiple servers, enhanced security and policy-based access features, and support for Java applets and Java servlets, HTML and XML, IBM said.
Version 2 should be available worldwide in 10 languages on June 30 for the following platforms: IBM AIX, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, and Linux. A version for OS/390 and OS/400 is due to be available in the fourth quarter, IBM said.