"If quantity is in any way connected to quality or
importance, then IBM's announcement last Monday of new software and
services to help customers adopt service oriented architecture, or SOA,
was a humdinger. All in all, Big Blue rolled out 11 new products (some
of which had been previously announced, and not all of which have yet
been released) and 20 enhancements to existing products--all designed to
speed up adoption and implementation of SOA.
Leading off the announcement, Steve
Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM's Software
Group, explained that "an SOA can play a strategic role in any company. .
. because it enables people to collaborate and innovate, identify new
business opportunities, and move the customers' needs to the forefront."
There have been major barriers to adoption of a SOA, including avoiding
additional costs and ensuring that investments are allocated toward a
business strategy that will withstand market fluctuations and company
changes. It is these barriers that the products and services behind last
week's broad announcements hope to bring down.
Mills explained that IBM has identified
five entry points that enable customers to move more easily into SOA.
These include people-centric, process-centric, and information-centric
approaches, along with connectivity and the ability to reuse existing
assets. Four of the new software releases are targeted at these starting
points, along with a set of industry-specific models that support SOA.
WebSphere Portal version 6.0 (scheduled for
delivery sometime in the next six months) integrates IBM Workplace and
collaborative technologies, facilitating the building and deployment of
composite applications that can be tailored by industry, role, or task.
Robert LeBlanc, general manager for WebSphere products, also explained
that this new release takes advantage of AJAX to create a more
responsive user environment. Further, it will provide a workflow builder
that utilizes the process engine from WebSphere Process Server, open
standards-based software powered by WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus
(ESB), and templates designed to accelerate application deployment.
WebSphere Business Monitor version 6.0 is designed
to deliver a process-centric approach to SOA by providing an aerial
view of the business and letting customers proactively identify
potential issues before they impact productivity. New features include
business alerts, links to third-party reports that combine real-time
performance and historical analysis, and scorecards to tract the status
and metrics of projects.
The delivery of industry-specific models will
augment the information-centric approach to SOA through the IBM Banking
Information FrameWork and the IBM Insurance Application Architecture
models, which each provide a set of critical processes, workflows, and
activities to help organizations re-engineer their business processes in
these two industries. Presumably, other industries will get their own
frameworks in the future.
WebSphere Application Server version 6.1 and
WebSphere Commerce version 6.0 focus on enabling reuse and easier SOA
management. WebSphere Application Server's new features include servlets
based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) that is at the heart of
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecommunications. SIP support will
reduce the complexity of SOA as it grows to include additional
applications such as voice, video, and instant messaging; new security
feature such as default security configurations and a default user
registry for improved identity management; and the IBM Installation
Factory, a tool to streamline the installation process. New features
included in WebSphere Commerce include a set of tools that enable
merchants to replicate the online experience in their stores to deliver
more personalized customer service, and simplified development and
management of transactions. "