IBM Flexes Middleware Muscle

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-03-05

IBM Flexes Middleware Muscle

IBM has moved to establish its dominance in the middleware space, with what the company claims are new record-breaking benchmark results for WebSphere middleware on a single server representing the highest performance in the information technology industry.

In addition, the systems giant is moving to create further distance between itself and fast-rising rival Oracle in the middleware space.

In an interview with eWEEK, Dave Klavon, director of development for IBM's WebSphere, said IBM set new records for speed of operation in Java-based software on a Power 780 server and on Power 730 Express as validated by independent SPECJ testing group. SPECjEnterprise 2010 is an industry-standard online transaction processing benchmark that is commonly used to compare the performance of middleware software for online transaction processing applications. 

Klavon said these records demonstrate how businesses using  IBM WebSphere middleware on Power7 hardware can get the lowest cost for performance in the industry-one-third that of the nearest competitor. Performance is an important factor for businesses. It speeds applications, reduces the amount of hardware and results in significant savings in hardware, software and energy costs.

"We're the undisputed leader in middleware, and we have been for eight years or so," Klavon told eWEEK. "We're continuing to deliver speed, function and usability."

Specifically, IBM has proved to have 76 percent higher performance than Oracle overall, 72 percent higher performance than Oracle per core and only one-third the cost for performance per core, Klavon said.

IBM has invested significantly in ensuring that its products provide the best performance value for our customers. IBM software and hardware components used in attaining these results include WebSphere Application Server, DB2 and Power Systems. The result is that companies have more responsive business applications and serve their customers more quickly and efficiently, Klavon said. Clients can save substantially with higher performance due to decreased investment in hardware and data center space, energy costs, software license and support costs. That helps explain why IBM is the market share leader for application infrastructure middleware, Klavon said.

"We want to make the distance between us and any competitor even larger," Klavon said. "With Oracle, it's a dog-eat-dog world. They set this game into motion and came out saying, 'I am IBM.' But we have such a head start on them because we established the model. Price/performance is what we're all about."

Indeed, at a January 2010 Oracle event celebrating the company's acquisition of and plans to integrate Sun Microsystems' assets, then Oracle President Charles Phillips said Oracle wanted "to be like the IBM of the '60s."

Yet, IBM claims more than 1,000 businesses have selected IBM middleware over Oracle in 2010 as part of IBM's DeFUSE project, citing real business benefits from the superior performance of IBM middleware. The DeFUSE project is an IBM effort to get customers to move from or select IBM's offerings over Oracle's Fusion middleware and related offerings.

For example, with DB2 running as low as one-third the cost of Oracle Database, more than 700 SAP clients chose DB2 over Oracle last year, IBM said. And, demand for DB2 spurred IBM to help more than 2,000 Oracle users gain DB2 skills last year.

New Advertising Campaign


Also, IBM recently rolled out a new advertising campaign that speaks to its self-stated performance edge in application server software and points to IBM's leadership in database and data warehouse appliance capabilities as compared to Oracle.

The IBM ads highlight:

  • IBM sets SPECJ benchmark for WebSphere on Power Systems with 70-plus percent greater performance than Oracle

  • The Netezza data warehousing appliance is up and running in 24 hours versus 24 days or more for Oracle Exadata

  • DB2 has three times the performance per core as Oracle's database in setting TPC-C and SAP 3D benchmarks.

Meanwhile, some market analysts said they have recently had to question Oracle claims in the middleware space.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said, "It's interesting in that Oracle appears to be attempting to deflate IBM's numbers. In the last several market share reports from Gartner and IDC, IBM has been the clear global leader in middleware. And in part that's due to the fact that the IBM mainframe has been such a dominant platform in the online transaction processing space and Oracle seems to want to downplay those numbers."

Joe Clabby, president of Clabby Analytics, told eWEEK of Oracle's middleware claims, "My issue is that I don't know where they are getting their data from (they don't source it).  And if they can't identify where the data is coming from, that is tantamount to making up market share claims in my book."

Oracle did not respond to a request for comment by the time this story posted.

IBM claims that it is consistent performance that attracts many clients around the globe to IBM such as QVC, CSN Stores, Deutsche Postbank UK, Korea's National Health Insurance Corp. (NHIC), Portland General Electric, Italian banking group UniCredit and China's Sichuan Seismic Bureau, among many others.

For example, QVC, one of the largest multimedia retailers in the world, has selected IBM Netezza to analyze user-generated content from its Web forums. In addition, CSN Stores, the third largest online retailer of home goods in the United States, chose IBM Netezza to help its customers mine terabytes of data to monitor profitability and customer satisfaction trends.

Deutsche Postbank UK is using a new IBM Smart Analytics System to help improve the quality and accuracy of its business reporting for risk monitoring, portfolio and collateral analysis. Portland General Electric, Oregon's largest utility, has realized $18 million in annual operational savings using IBM's WebSphere software to help speed business processes such as the replacement of 850,000 energy meters with smart meters and billing processes.

NHIC consolidated its integration information system with IBM's Tivoli and WebSphere software, reducing the number of core processors needed to run their operations. Italian banking group UniCredit reduced back office response time from one day to minutes with an intelligent, paperless model using IBM's virtualization software.

And China's Sichuan Seismic Bureau automatically captures data recorded by seismic monitoring stations, processing 100,000 messages accurately using WebSphere.

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