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

: IBMs Swainson: WebSphere and Beyond"> EWEEK: How have IBMs acquisitions helped you in your role? SWAINSON: Our strategy is to be opportunistically looking for high-quality companies with high-quality technologies that allow us to augment our product portfolio. The Crosswolds acquisition got us really firmly into the business process integration space, which we hadnt had an offering in before. We augmented that with Holosofx because we needed a tool for business process integration and Holosofx had a very good one. Wed had a long business relationship with them. Were pretty focused on filling out our portfolio.
EWEEK: Why does IBM take the approach that the application server is the right architecture for integration?
SWAINSON: Well, the app server is a foundational architecture for a lot of different things. We have a different message around integration than a BEA who talks about their build-to-integrate strategy. We fully agree that you can build applications to be integrated. But in many cases there is just as valid a case to be made for integration through a database. And a lot of applications get integrated through some sort of federated data scheme. Obviously data warehouses are in fact just a way of doing that. Another very valid scheme for integration is to use a message-driven middleware like MQSeries to tie applications together or use a message broker like the WebSphere MQ Broker. So we have a rich portfolio of integration technologies that include the app server, but we dont limit our message to being the app server is the only way to integrate. EWEEK: Does IBM see Web services as synonymous with app servers? SWAINSON: No. Theres a high degree of correlation in the sense that many Web services will be delivered by the application server but not all. So, for example, the Web Services Security architecture that were working on with Microsoft, some of that will be delivered by the directory. Some of it will be delivered by an authentication service that can be independent of an application server. Things that are directly related to applications, like the Web services transaction protocols and that kind of stuff, thats obviously going to be part of an app server. And up to this point most of the Web services standards have been around applications and therefore weve delivered them through the WebSphere app server. But thats not always going to be the case. Theres a whole set of systems management standards that are evolving here. And systems management stuff wont all be delivered through the application server. EWEEK: Do you think J2EE should have to create new APIs for every new Web services spec like theyve been doing? Or should there be another way they can go about it? SWAINSON: This is a religious discussion too. The answer is not necessarily and probably not exclusively. We believe that Web services need to be independent of the implementation. So you need to be able to define a Web service whether something is written in J2EE or COBOL or even .Net. And therefore to try to turn this into something that is exclusively the province of Java or J2EE we think is a mistake. We are a big supporter of J2EE and continue to be a big supporter of J2EE. But the world is not just J2EE any more than the world is just .Net. Theres lots of COBOL out there, theres lots of C and C++. EWEEK: Another argument against IBM is youre the complexity company and primarily you want to sell services. How do you respond to that? SWAINSON: My business has nothing to do with selling services. My business is selling software and selling software to customers whether its delivered with services or not. Having said that, of course we are interested in solving the complex problems that tend to go along with the worlds largest enterprises. So if the accusation is that IBM likes solving complex problems then we stand guilty as accused. However, we also solve simple problems, but our core customer set is the enterprise market. And the enterprise market tends to have more complex problems than anyone else. There is no tie at all between IGS [IBM Global Services] and our software business. EWEEK: Also, competitors talk about the size of WebSphere—that its a hodgepodge of products. SWAINSON: This is another one of these broad overarching statements that is not true. The WebSphere family is not one product; its a family of products. It consists of three major elements: a set of products to build the applications—the WebSphere application server and associated tools; a set of products to deliver those applications—things like our portal and our commerce product—and a set of things to integrate those applications into a business. That seems like a pretty simple way to view a family of middleware products to me. EWEEK: What can you say about the future of the business? SWAINSON: More customers today are trying to worry about how they integrate the last 30 or 40 years of building applications than they are necessarily worrying about how to build the next generation of applications. And so this whole area of business integration and business process integration has become much more top of mind for customers and much more top of mind for CIOs as they try to make their businesses more efficient and more effective. So I think you will see from us a great deal of emphasis on business integration, business process integration, tools that make it easier to do that and faster to do that. By some measurements customers spend as much as 40 percent of their total budget on integrating their applications and we think we can provide some significant benefits through automation to that process. So I think youll see a lot of emphasis on business integration and business process automation in the medium term. Long term I think youll see a move to service-oriented architectures and Web services with everything being thought of in the context of a service and applications being composed out of services. So very long-term I think youre going to see application development being done differently than it is today. I think youll see most application vendors shift to a more standards-based way of delivering applications. Their applications will have standards-based interfaces on top of those such that they can be composed into new applications by the customer or by systems integrators. Thats going to have some interesting effects on software pricing models that I dont think we fully understand yet.

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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