Sources: New WebSphere on the Horizon

WebSphere 7 could come as early as September, according to sources.

LAS VEGAS-Users and developers looking for the next version of IBM's WebSphere application server won't have to wait much longer than a few months, according to sources.

IBM last updated WebSphere in May 2006 with version 6.1, and the company has left many users wondering when the product would see another major release. Sources said a new release, likely to be named WebSphere 7, is expected around September.

Although he would not discuss dates or release plans for a new version of the application server, Tom Rosamilia, general manager of IBM's WebSphere middleware unit, told eWEEK that the company has consistently delivered upgrades to the WebSphere family via feature packs.

"I had customers come up to me and say, -I want the latest and greatest,' and I had other customers say they were more interested in standards compliance," Rosamilia said at the IBM Impact SOA (service-oriented architecture) conference here. "So we embarked on a different strategy called feature packs. You could get feature packs to add functionality you needed. Despite the fact that in 2007 we didn't ship a new version of WebSphere, we did ship a lot of new functionality."

Also at Impact, IBM announced new additions to its business events processing software portfolio, which allows business professionals to directly identify and analyze cause-and-effect relationships among events in real time. IBM also announced a new business process management suite.

Rosamilia said the new flagship BPM software product, IBM WebSphere Business Events, is built on technology acquired from AptSoft in January and can establish connections between events and identify possible opportunities and threats by automatically initiating a trigger when trends emerge.

The new product is available through a free, limited-use trial download and a fully supported, commercially licensed version. In a future release, IBM will add links to WebSphere eXtreme Scale and technology from Solid Information Technology, which was bought in December 2007, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM Software Group.

"Business events processing is becoming more important as it enables companies of all sizes and in all industries to proactively analyze and respond to minute market changes that can significantly impact their businesses," Rosamilia said. "By expanding our BPM arsenal with the addition of WebSphere Business Events, IBM is helping clients identify critical business opportunities and mitigate risk."

IBM also announced the IBM Business Process Management Suite, an integrated set of role-based, SOA-enabled software that provides customers with the ability to design, execute and optimize core business processes. The suite brings together capabilities from across IBM and includes a choice of two foundational Starter Sets that make it easier for customers to get started with BPM. The Starter Sets are designed to address typical customer scenarios involving systems, applications, content, people, and decisions. Additional offerings expand the value of the suite and include advanced analytics, BPM repositories and collaboration tools.

IBM also is continuing its partnership with the American Productivity and Quality Center to build industry process models and best practices to accelerate projects and facilitate collaboration.

Meanwhile, IBM announced a new industry framework for financial services that will help banks better manage and use information to increase revenue and customer retention, reduce risk, improve operational efficiency and increase flexibility to support existing and new business strategies.

The IBM Banking Framework for Customer Care and Insight is powered by SOA.

The new IBM Banking Framework for Customer Care and Insight is based on IBM Business Partner and IBM Global Services expertise in the financial services industry and is built on IBM software from WebSphere, Information Management, Lotus, Rational and Tivoli.