IBM Unveils Server-Based Software Model

UPDATED: The company shrinks its core middleware technology down to run on devices and other platforms.

NEW YORK—IBM on Monday unveiled a new server-based software model designed to lessen enterprises reliance on desktop applications such as Microsoft Office, while easing application management and making platform choice irrelevant.

The company is living up to its promise of delivering "middleware everywhere" by shrinking its core middleware technology down to run on devices and other platform, according to company officials at a kickoff event here.

The new model supports the management, provision and deployment of business applications and data from a central server to clients ranging from PCs to PDAs, cell phones and shop-floor terminals. Enterprises would get the rich functionality of PC software from applications deployed via the Web, IBM officials said.

The model also extends applications to virtually any client a customer chooses, as the open middleware is designed to support clients running Windows, UNIX and Linux, as well as operating systems for wireless and embedded devices such as Symbian. Support for the Mac operating system will be available later this year, company officials said.

As reported by eWEEK in January, much of this new software model will center around IBMs fledgling Lotus Workplace messaging and collaboration suite. Two new Workplace products were announced as part of the new software model launch: IBM Lotus Workplace Messaging and IBM Lotus Workplace Documents.

Both offerings are delivered through Workplaces new rich client platform built on the Eclipse framework. The new applications will allow organizations to centrally deploy and manage messaging and document management function to the most appropriate client or different types of users, while providing a rich client experience, IBM officials said.

Workplace Documents will provide a centralized location for users to create, import, edit and save rich documents, presentations and spreadsheets, officials said.

IBM also announced Workplace Client Technology, Micro Edition, also known as Workplace Micro Environment (WCTME) version 5.7. This middleware product is designed to extend enterprise applications to non-PC devices so that enterprises, developers and manufacturers can build and configure applications on devices, as well as manage, update and install new services remotely and wirelessly, IBM officials said.

The software enables the management of applications in an environment in both connected and disconnected environments, officials said.

The new software model has also been extended to Tivoli software to centrally administer clients and provision computing resources to clients when needed; WebSphere Portal software to provide a single point of personalized interaction with people, applications and content; and built-in, server-managed security, workflow, and application and data management capabilities, officials said.

Next page: "This is not a Microsoft replacement system."