IBM continues to push its vertical middleware strategy with new solutions for specific industries—and is winning deals that competitors can only envy.
Customers can expect more this month, as IBM is expected to deliver a new health care solution using WebSphere Business Integration software as the core of the companys Health Care Collaborative Network Solution.
Martin Wildberger, vice president of industry solutions at IBM and head of the companys Toronto Software Lab, is the brains behind IBMs industry-specific software solutions. Wildberger heads the development and delivery of more than 60 software bundles tailored to a dozen key industries. Since the rollout of these solutions earlier this year, more than 200 customers have implemented them, and more than 1,000 software developers have signed on to contribute to, sell and install the bundles in PartnerWorld Industry Networks, officials for the Armonk, N.Y., company said.
"Its becoming clear that customers are starting to see that its more and more difficult to deal with the overwhelming complexity of technology and ... they are looking at solutions to solve their business problems," Wildberger said. "People are looking at how they can drive new revenue sources, what they can do to drive more value chain efficiency, what they can do to drive more productivity."
IBMs WebSphere application server lies at the heart of many of the solutions. In addition to health care, middleware solutions have been developed for life sciences, telecommunications, energy and utilities, government, retail, consumer products, electronics, automotive, banking, insurance, and financial markets.
"There are a lot of opportunities right now in terms of health care providers building private, interoperable, secure networks for health care data," Wildberger said. "There are industry standards around HL7 [Health Level Seven, a health care industry standard] to allow the common characterization of data protocols to communicate that data amongst the various providers."
Another example is in the banking industry. "We are now looking at how we can provide some of our Workplace Client technology that will enable software developers to create rich client-side applications that deliver the functionality of local desktop clients," Wildberger said.
That effort resulted in the announcement last month of IBM Workplace Client Technology, Client Administrator, which is suited for bank-branch environments, Wildberger said.
IBMs middleware also was integral in the companys winning a large deal with the New York Stock Exchange to deliver a new order management and messaging system to support the 1.6 billion shares traded daily on the NYSE.
NYSE officials said IBM is the prime contractor on the new system, known as TradeWorks, which includes IBM hardware, software and engineering, and consulting expertise to upgrade the NYSEs system for processing brokers buy-and-sell orders on the trading floor. "This system will increase the capability of floor brokers," said Roger Burkhardt, chief technology officer of the NYSE, in New York.
The system features thousands of custom-designed handheld devices that brokers can use on a wireless network to buy and sell orders.
The key to the deployment is the IBM middleware, including the companys DB2 database, WebSphere and Tivoli management software, which together act as the back-end engine for TradeWorks to process the transactions and manage the overall system. The DB2 system will run on IBM mainframes running z/OS. IBM is also supplying Linux workstations for traders and clerks to use.
Burkhardt said Securities Industry Automation Corp., in Brooklyn, N.Y., which helps develop the NYSEs key systems and networks, selected IBM as the primary partner for TradeWorks.
TradeWorks, which is in place and operating on the NYSE trading floor in a limited role, features a Java and Linux client for the brokers clerks, Burkhardt said. Willie Chiu, vice president of high-performance on-demand solutions at IBM, said the TradeWorks system involved "one of the most exhaustive tests we have ever done."