IBM Reaches for Solutions

Announces Summit-based xSeries servers, open-source plans for WebSphere Studio Workbench

IBM used its recent solutions conference for technical developers, in San Francisco, to announce a host of offerings, including a server line, software and further open-source initiatives.

The major announcement on the hardware side involves the xSeries servers, based on IBMs Summit chip-set technology and high-end Intel Corp. processors.

Bill Zeitler, senior vice president of IBMs server group, said Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., chose IBM server technology as one of the validation platforms to test its upcoming Xeon MP processor and its next-generation processor, code-named McKinley.

Intel is testing its 32- and 64-bit processors using the Summit chip set, IBMs high-end interconnect technology—developed for mainframes and supercomputers—that will result in far greater SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) performance and scalability, Zeitler said.

"This is the first chip set designed to work with upcoming processors from both the Intel Xeon and Itanium processor families. We will see breakthrough SMP performance with this move," Zeitler said.

The Summit chip set, comprising a group of IBM chips joined to an Intel processor, allows processors to be linked to create larger systems, while adding mainframelike features such as advanced I/O capabilities to Intel-based servers.

Leading the news on the software side is IBMs plans to make its WebSphere Studio Workbench an open-source tool in the near future. Workbench, which is supported by IBM and 12 other tools vendors, including Versata Inc., Peregrine Systems Inc. and Rational Software Corp., allows Linux software developers to integrate IBMs development tools with tools from other vendors and access them through a common interface.

IBM also announced that it will be shipping by months end WebSphere Studio Version 4, its first commercially available set of Web services and JavaServer Pages development tools, which allow users to convert Java software into Web-based services. Officials said there will be an upcoming release that plugs into the Workbench beta.

IBMs senior vice president of software, Steve Mills, also announced the availability of VisualAge for Java Version 4, which includes a beta version of IBMs new WebSphere Studio Application Developer, its next-generation development environment for Java technology and Java 2 Enterprise Edition application developers.

An additional offering for developers is WebSphere Private Universal Description, Discovery and Integration Registry, which will enable companies to implement Web services technologies in the controlled environment of an intranet or extranet.

Developers welcomed the news of the software and its focus on Linux, Java and open standards. But not all were impressed by the conference.

"The news on new products is good, but I have not really learned anything new here and am disappointed by the presentations and sessions," said a delegate from Belgium, who declined to be named.

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., also announced a single-portal platform, formed by merging the functions of Lotus Development Corp.s K-station portal into WebSphere Portal Server, IBMs portal framework.

Mills said WebSphere Portal Server takes advantage of the power and scalability of WebSphere Application Server, IBMs core technology for Web-based applications.

Tivoli Systems Inc., an IBM company based in Austin, Texas, announced Version 3.8 of Tivoli Policy Director, its software that enables organizations to control wired and wireless access to applications and data.

Version 3.8, expected to be available worldwide Sept. 28, includes new browser-based tools that provide a secure management portal view for distributed and delegated security management to business units and affiliates. The software also offers platform support for Linux.

On the database front, Janet Perna, IBMs general manager of data management solutions, announced the availability of WebSphere Commerce Analyzer Advanced Edition, which gives companies real-time access to customer buying trends.