IBM Looks Beyond J2EE

IBM says the Java 2 Enterprise Edition is not enough to support its on-demand computing strategy.

IBM Corp. says the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) is not enough to support its on-demand computing strategy, so the companys looking to implement a services-oriented architecture through its WebSphere application server.

Scott Hebner, director of product management for WebSphere, said IBM plans to deliver network transaction support, workflow, and Web services management and provisioning among other enhancements toward a services-oriented architecture.

"A big push is to focus on delivering the next-generation application server optimized for building on-demand applications," Hebner said.

Hebner said that from 1997 to about 2000, enterprises focused primarily on making existing applications available through the Web. From 2000 to now, the focus shifted to putting new front ends on these applications, he said. But from here on, with on-demand computing, the focus will be "not only to integrate business processes but to do them in more dynamic ways and to allow others to integrate them into their operations."

Indeed, "the underlying software architecture has to evolve to be more of an operating system for the Net," Hebner said.

This "requires a next-generation application server that takes the J2EE kernel and makes more of a services-oriented architecture out of it," Hebner said. "The J2EE architecture is insufficient for this type of application and integration."

IBM will deliver the advanced features—integrated workflow, business rules and provision and audit capabilities—in WebSphere 5 this year, Hebner said.

A new class of application server usage is required, Hebner said. "Its much more than J2EE," he said. The next-generation application server architecture would include this service-oriented architecture, as well as IBMs autonomic or self-healing technologies and grid computing, said Hebner.

In addition, Hebner said, the move toward a service-oriented architecture would help developers.

Today developers "are writing a lot of customized J2EE code, and with the service-oriented architecture itll allow developers to take a much more visual approach to implementing business services instead of coding everything line by line," Hebner said. "The development productivity increase is huge."

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass., market research firm, said: "IBMs WebSphere team understands and is committed to service orientation, and will take full advantage of the Web Services support in J2EE 1.4. Whats most exciting about IBMs SOA [service-oriented architecture] leadership is that they will be helping their customers move beyond the simple use of Web services for simplifying integration to the more complex construction of service-oriented architectures based upon Web Services standards and the WSIF [Web Services Invocation Framework]. Enterprise customers who implement such SOAs will potentially see substantial business benefits in the form of increased business agility."

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