WebMethods Java plan only partially done

WebMethods Inc.'s addition of a Java application server in its integration platform will be done in phases. The first phase in webMethods 6 will require an adapter and the second phase, due in a subsequent point release in 2003, will feature consistency between the integration and application servers.

Additionally, a company official at the webMethods Integration World show on Tuesday previewed Version 6.5 of the platform and pledged to continue support of previous versions of the product.

The company at the show unveiled webMethods 6, which introduces the inclusion of the JBoss open-source Java application server in the integration platform. But company officials later said that the first phase of the integration in webMethods 6, which is to be generally available in January, utilizes an adapter to link the application server to the integration platform. A subsequent point release, due in the first half of 2003, will feature consistency across both products, with full name space management and security support, and not require an adapter.

"You'll be able to have a single development environment" in the next phase, said Jim Green, webMethods CTO and executive vice president of product development, during an interview on Tuesday. The first phase requires developing business logic in Enterprise JavaBeans while integration logic, including data transformations, routing, and error handling, is developed on webMethods 6.

The company's bundling of the J2EE-compliant JBoss is meant to boost the notion that the integration platform is to serve as the core element of the infrastructure, feeding other layers in the enterprise stack, according to Green. The company's need for access to source code precipitated its selection of JBoss rather than trying to form an alliance with IBM Corp. or BEA Systems Inc. for use of their application servers, said Green.

A webMethods user at the show said he found the company's decision to use JBoss interesting. "I really like the idea of them using open source technology, but it's like they see this J2EE freight train coming" and had to utilize Java technology, said Dave Boeke, a technology manager at a medical supplies company in Cincinnati.

By using JBoss, webMethods gets the advantage of Java technology but also can keep using its own proprietary technology, Boeke said. He added he was surprised to learn that the integration between JBoss and webMethods 6 would be done in phases rather than all at once.

Nonetheless, Boeke said his company has just ramped up a previous version of webMethods and will want to get its return on investment before upgrading. Thus, the company will wait until late-2003 and upgrade to a newer version of webMethods available at that time, he said.

Another webMethods official, Kristin Weller, senior vice president of product development at the company, pledged that the company will continue supporting previous versions of webMethods.

"We will not force you to upgrade, we will not premature sunset [or end] support for a past version to force you to upgrade," Weller said. This puts pressure on webMethods to put enough value in new releases so customers will want to upgrade, she added.

She also provided details of webMethods 6.5, which according to Green will come out after the release that features full integration of the Java application server. Version 6.5 is to feature high-performance partitions integration, XML Schema standards support and more Web services protocol support, workflow enhancements including better automatic generation of user interfaces, and process modeling tool enhancements.

Also planned are performance improvements and deployment enhancements, including an automatic deployment tool and configuration, and verification improvements.

For developers, Version 6.5 will feature third-party source code controls and additional security.

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