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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-12-09 Print this article Print

: IBMs Swainson: WebSphere and Beyond"> EWEEK: What are the highlights of WebSphere 5? SWAINSON: The first priority on WebSphere version 5 has been performance and quality. There are lots of features in WebSphere version 5 including J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] 1.3 support, a lot of the Web services standards have been rolled into this release. We have support for some additional platforms--some of the Linuxes and other things. There are quite a few significant technologies in this, but the big picture view of this is focused on reliability, stability, performance, quality and tighter integration between the application development tools and the runtime environments. What weve been doing with Eclipse shows where the WebSphere application development tools have superseded the previous generation of Visual Age tools and have been tightly integrated with the various runtime environments they support.
EWEEK: How does WebSphere 5 stand up against the competition?
SWAINSON: Its the building block for all of our WebSphere family offerings. So thats obviously incredibly significant. It takes things like performance and scalability and reliability and ease of maintenance and ease of operations to a new level. So customers who deploy this in large-scale environments like eBay are going to find it easier to maintain, easier to operate and easier to use. That I think will provide us with a point of competitive differentiation. We still have the fullest range of offerings, all the way from Intel with Windows and Linux, all the way up to the mainframe. It supports very high performance, very high scalability applications that run thousands of transactions a second in a full transaction processing kind of environment. These are things that set us up against the competition. EWEEK: Can you talk a little more about you small to mid-market strategy? SWAINSON: The small and medium business market for us, particularly the medium business market, is very important. Its about half of the total middleware market, we think, with literally tens of thousands of customers who buy infrastructure technology. There are a couple of characteristics to this. One is that it tends to be a market thats driven by channels. Often ISVs and integrators are the principal method of going for this market. So your products for this have to be very channel friendly and partner friendly. In general the demands of the SMB marketplace are simpler in the sense that theyre not going to be driving thousands of transactions a second. On the other hand theyre going to value ease of installation, ease of operation and what we call near zero administration—really being flexible and easy for people who dont have large-scale IT departments to really deal with. EWEEK: It seems that not only in the small and medium business markets but overall that people are expecting to pay less for the core features. SWAINSON: Theres no question about the fact that there is a base level of functionality that people are coming to expect from their products. And yet customers demands are at the same time pushing us into higher levels of functionality. So for people who want to do simple things you have to deliver simple products that are appropriately priced. I will tell you that there are large numbers of customers who are pushing the envelope in terms of scalability, performance, and reliability. Lots and lots of people who are using these things in 7 by 24 by 365 kinds of contexts for whom the issue is not necessarily low purchase price, its low operations price and its a high degree of integrity and reliability over the long term.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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