The application server space is heating up once again as both IBM and BEA Systems tout new versions of their platforms.
With its Liquid Computing strategy, San Jose, Calif.-based BEA Systems Inc. will deliver the next version of its WebLogic application server, code-named Diamond, and its key component, an ESB (enterprise service bus) technology code-named Quicksilver.
Company officials said BEAs technology will go into beta by the end of January. The company also said that despite a series of recent defections, BEA is not only completing current projects but continuing to innovate.
“Liquid Computing is BEAs strategy to respond faster to business changes,” said Vittorio Viarengo, vice president of platform product strategy at BEA.
Viarengo said the software industry is at a new inflection point “accentuated by service-oriented architecture [SOA],” and that in Diamond, BEA will deliver a platform for SOA development that will enable users to “move from integration to compatibility.”
But with the move to SOAs, there is unprecedented pressure for uptime, and an SOA also requires a sound management scheme. Diamond delivers on both of these challenges and provides an application configurator, he said.
“Diamond is a flexible platform for SOA,” Viarengo said. “From a WebLogic perspective, besides keeping up with J2EE, we are implementing side-by-side deployment to enable users to deploy a new version of a service side-by-side with an existing one. Also, within a cluster, you can add new versions or new software without bringing the system down.”
The new version also will include “a lot of heuristics in the server” to make the product more self-aware.
Meanwhile, Quicksilver, a component of Diamond, “is the first product to bridge an enterprise service bus and Web services management, so we believe we are doing something very innovative with this,” Viarengo said.
“Quicksilver is the traffic cop of your SOA, but it also allows you to create a proxy for your messaging environment,” he said. In essence, Quicksilver is like a switch for Web services, to route requests from consumers to providers, track messages and manage endpoints, Viarengo said.
He said the introduction of the WS-ReliableMessaging specification, which Quicksilver makes use of, “will change the economics of messaging over time and enables you to bridge from legacy into the new SOA architecture.”
Regarding the mass exodus of talent from BEA—including its former chief technology officer, Scott Dietzen, and chief architect Adam Bosworth—Viarengo said the company is in good shape to meet its customers needs and continue to innovate.
Viarengo said BEA will not only complete projects started under Bosworth and Dietzen, but also create new ones.
“We have no choice but to innovate,” he said. “We are not a big complacent company. At the same time, customers are deploying our platform in mission-critical systems, and we need to support them and get them moving and solidify the platform for another 10 years. And we also need to innovate and outmaneuver the competition.”
Indeed, “Theres still tremendous talent at BEA,” Viarengo said. “People come and people go, and it creates an opportunity for people within to step up. Well promote technologists from within and attract others from outside.”
Sheldon Wang, senior vice president and CTO (chief technology officer) of eHealthInsurance Services Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., said the online health insurance broker has based its e-commerce infrastructure on WebLogic, and he is particularly impressed with WebLogic Integration.
Moreover, Wang said BEAs SOA strategy with Diamond and Quicksilver “definitely fits into our vision very well,” though eHealthInsurance is not implementing an SOA just yet.
But Wang also said the defections at BEA were cause for concern, if only slight concern.
“Every time, as a partner, high-level people defect from a company, it is cause for concern, but this is not a major concern as it happens all the time in our business and things go on,” Wang said.
Meanwhile, IBM on Wednesday announced a new version of its WebSphere application server platform, citing enhancements such as high availability, new capabilities for building SOAs, better resource utilization and improvements to the WebSphere development and deployment environment that could improve overall efficiency by as much as 75 percent, the company said.
WebSphere 6.0 features new autonomic features to automatically detect system problems and react by saving or rerouting network traffic to other servers in a cluster. This failover and simultaneous detection and recovery capability is new to WebSphere and can help companies reduce losses due to system outages, said Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere software at IBM. Sutor said outages can cost as much as $6.5 million an hour in some industries such as retail brokerage and $17,000 an hour in consumer banking.
“So, weve focused on delivering a high-availability manager directly to the application server itself,” Sutor said. “Weve added a lot of smarts to the app server infrastructure. Like weve added some autonomic features, so it can sense when one of its buddies in a cluster is no longer working.”
Meanwhile, IBM has beefed up WebSphere as a component in SOA development, Sutor said. The new version supports the Web Services Interoperability Organizations (WS-I) Basic Profile 1.1, complies with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.4 and supports the WS-Security and WS-Transactions specifications. It also features a UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) 3.0 registry and a new Java messaging engine.
“We have built a brand-new, all-Java messaging engine for WebSphere 6” that delivers improved management and up to five times the performance of previous versions of the platform, Sutor said. “Were improving the WebSphere administration console. And integration of the messaging engine with the MQ backbone is now much easier. We see this as an additional advancement in adding enterprise service bus capability.” In addition, Sutor said IBM is using its Cloudscape database, also known as Derby, under the covers to power this capability.