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4/14/2006 - IBM Unleashes a Barrage of SOA Announcements
Posted in performance testing

"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. "

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