IBM last week announced its SOA strategy, including new services and products to support customers in developing and deploying service-oriented architectures.
IBM has worked closely with its customers over the last year on solidifying the services and products that are part of the new SOA focus, said Scott Cosby, IBMs director of WebSphere Business Integration product management. “This is the first [announcement] in a multimonth effort over the next two quarters or so” related to the IBM SOA strategy, he said.
Bob Sutor, IBMs director of WebSphere infrastructure software, will be keynoting at this weeks Edge 2004 conference on software development in Boston. Sutor, who will be speaking on the concept of service-oriented architecture, took time last week to explain IBMs SOA strategy to eWEEK Senior Writer Darryl K. Taft.
SOAs are collections of business processes that rely on reusable standard interfaces to integrate applications inside a company as well as externally with customers, partners and suppliers. “You have to be able to break down business processes such that they are aligned with what the business wants to do,” Cosby said. “SOAs allow you to build off of these business processes and allow you to do so more quickly and easily.”
The three major themes of IBMs SOA strategy are to drive down costs, find more opportunities for growth and help transform organizations into on-demand businesses, Cosby said.
IBM, through its Global Services arm, is delivering a set of services to empower customers. The first, the IBM Assessments for Service Oriented Architectures, helps customers assess functional and technical aspects of moving to an SOA. The next service, Strategy and Planning for Service Oriented Architecture, identifies the customers objectives and ends with a plan for transitioning to an SOA.
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Another service IBM will offer is Application Renovation and Integration for Service Oriented Architecture, which is for customers who want to expand their legacy systems into SOA environments. The fourth new service, Component Business Modeling, enables customers to break down their business according to the processes involved in running it, Cosby said.
The Armonk, N.Y., company is adding to its services capabilities by increasing the number of people who are knowledgeable about SOAs and Web services. “We have about 15,000 experts in Global Services who are well-skilled and knowledgeable about Web services,” Cosby said. “And well be training another 35,000.” IBM will hold an event next month in Toronto to get its customers more informed about SOAs, he said.
In addition to the services, IBM will introduce new products to support SOAs. The WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation product features native support for BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) and enables customers to build and integrate applications in SOAs, Cosby said.
WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation supports both Common Event Infrastructure and Java Developers Kit 1.4, and its tools are based on the Eclipse open-source development framework.
In addition, IBM WebSphere Studio Application Developer Integration Edition 5.1, which will be released at the same time, will enable developers to develop and deploy BPEL applications visually, Cosby said.
“IBMs solution is evolving with this announcement toward a more integrated platform based on a single run-time stack built on J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] and Web services standards,” said Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. “This is an important step along the road to unify the IBM solution onto that stack, which will culminate with its complete unification on the WebSphere stack about a year from now. In the meantime, this release places a greater proportion of IBMs solution on that unified platform.”
“Basically, IBM has gotten the SOA gospel and is really taking it to heart in the way they build their products and deliver their services from here on forward,” said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink LLC, of Waltham, Mass. “Rather than announcing a single product or service, this announcement kicks off a major strategy for IBM around what they see is a combined effort from multiple product and service groups to meet the increasing demand for loosely coupled, distributed, standards-based computing that SOA represents.”
Meanwhile, BEA Systems Inc. last week reminded the industry that it too is in the SOA business. The San Jose, Calif., company said it is the only company fully equipped to deliver SOA solutions today. “While many talk about SOA being a future trend, BEA customers are already benefiting from SOA, thanks to BEAs technology,” said a BEA spokesperson.
BEAs SOA strategy is wrapped around BEA WebLogic Platform. Company officials said only BEA has a unified, standards-based infrastructure, built on a common set of components—which can be reused across services and applications—that can help customers build SOAs quickly. The company points to Accredited Home Lenders Inc., of San Diego, which uses BEAs WebLogic Enterprise Platform 8.1 and accompanying tools to implement an SOA for mortgage banking.
In a recent interview with eWEEK, BEA CEO Alfred Chuang said, “BEA is the only company qualified to deliver SOA today; nobody else can say that.”