IBM looks to unify business integration package via Java

Looking for programming consistency in middleware, IBM plans to revamp its WebSphere Business Integration package by rewriting it to conform to the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) specification and running it on top of the WebSphere application server, an IBM official said last Friday.

WebSphere Business Integration currently is a collection of products featuring InterChange, which is process automation technology acquired from CrossWorlds; WebSphere MQ Workflow, for workflow, and WebSphere MQ Integrator, a high-speed message broker.

"The advantage (with J2EE) is that you get a unified programming model, a unified environment, "said John Shedletsky, vice president of Competitive Technology in the Software Solution Division at IBM, in Somers, N.Y. This unification enables cost and time savings, making it easier to change applications, he said.

The reworked version of WebSphere Business Integration is expected to ship later this year, Shedletsky said prior to giving a presentation at IBM's "e-business on demand Competitive Technical Briefing" in San Francisco.

Furthering IBM's middleware plans, the company next year is expected to add support of the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) specification, for Web services choreography, to WebSphere Application Sever, Shedletsky said. "That will become our standardized flow description language," said Shedletsky. Through BPEL, developers, for example, could take process flows from another BPEL-compliant product, such as Microsoft BizTalk, and execute them in WebSphere, he said.

IBM officials at the briefing belittled rivals Microsoft and BEA.

Shedletsky criticized Microsoft's server strategy, saying Microsoft is attempting to derive a server platform out of a desktop architecture. Windows and .Net clients share the same tools, interfaces and architectures with .Net servers, he said.

"There's only one problem with (this strategy). It's stupid," Shedletsky said. "A code base optimized for desktop applications is not going to be addressing the more demanding requirements of server-side applications," he said.

Shedletsky also bashed Microsoft's track record on security, noting the frequent patches being issued for Windows. "Security is a much bigger issue on the server side than it is on the desktop. I predict that Microsoft will never get security right. Never," said Shedletsky. Microsoft would need to rebuild its server environment to make it secure, he said.

Additionally, Shedletsky said IBM has found environments heavy with Microsoft servers where utilization was just one to two percent. He suggested Linux on zSseries mainframes as an alternative. "(The) zSeries can support literally hundreds of Linux images," he said. IBM has consolidated a Windows user onto such a platform and projects savings of $8.5 million over four years, said Shedletsky.

Microsoft through a spokesperson declined to respond to the IBM remarks, saying Microsoft responds to technology issues but not to remarks that are unproductive for customers.

With BEA, Shedletsky noted a recent report from Gartner that said BEA had lost its lead in the J2EE application server market to IBM. He said there has been speculation on BEA's being acquired.

"It's hard to see how BEA can survive as a single product vendor going forward," Shedletsky said.

A BEA representative rejected the IBM contentions, stressing that BEA has more than 13.500 customers, and disputed the market share figures.

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