IBM Stakes SOA Claim

The company unveils a slew of products and enhancements aimed at helping companies implement a services-based architecture, including an interoperable Web services registry and repository.

In the scheme of all things SOA, IBM is staking a huge claim. The company announced April 3 eight new products and 20 product enhancements—all geared toward helping companies implement a service-oriented architecture.

The biggest story for IBM is its breadth of software currently available. Where its honing in on SOA is around component reusability, process integration and services governance—key strengths in SOA that play to IBMs humongous portfolio of WebSphere, Tivoli, DB2, and Rational products.

By expanding its product road map to embrace SOA, IBM is tapping a methodology on the move.

"Its our view at IBM that [as an industry] weve reached an important inflection point. Its less around gadgets and more about how technology gets applied," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and Software Group executive at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y. "We believe in a world now thats not technology-led. Its about business process and process integration. Companies are going to have to keep pace."

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about IBMs strategic alliance with Cognos to jointly develop, market and sell SOA products.

The company is investing "a large amount of money"—in excess of $1 billion a year, according to Mills—around SOA technology, training and support. With that, IBM is anticipating double-digit growth across its entire Software Group product line and global services organization.

On the software side IBM has set five "entry points" for companies considering SOA: people, processes, information, application integration, and reusable components that customers can expose as common services and use across common processes.

With this theme in mind, Robert LeBlanc, general manager of WebSphere, detailed a slew of new and enhanced software offerings to support SOA.

On the people-centric note, IBM announced the 6.0 version of its WebSphere Portal that enables users to "leverage SOA and start building services to connect," said LeBlanc. New application templates help users to deploy and modify an SOA architecture, and to deploy applications that are integrated with the portal. An orchestrated workflow capability is being integrated into 6.0 to manage human interaction in a process, or "people flows," while integration with WebSphere Process Server will help manage business process flows. A front-end tool kit for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) has been added to help developers build more interactive Web pages.

To support processes, IBM announced upgrades to its WebSphere Business Modeler and Business Monitor products to help users "take action, and provide the real-time capabilities to manage processes," said LeBlanc. New features in Business Monitor, for example, include business alerts, links to third-party reports and scorecards to track the status and metrics of projects.

On the information front, IBM upgraded two industry frameworks for SOA—Banking and Insurance—and integrated those with master data management capabilities to enable a single view of customer data. The Banking Information FrameWork and Insurance Application Architecture models come with a set of processes, workflows and "activities" designed to help users re-engineer existing processes.

To better enable application integration and component reuse, IBM announced the 6.1 version of its WebSphere Application Server and 6.0 version of WebSphere Commerce. The application server has a boatload of upgrades including Session Initiation Protocol servlets for added applications—voice, video and instant messaging—to a services-based architecture. A new Installation Factory tool cuts the installation process to one step, according to IBM. WebSphere Commerce includes upgrades for a consistent view of a customer across sales channels, and new transaction development and management capabilities.

At the same time LeBlanc said IBM continues to enhance all its connectivity products, from WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus to the Message Broker.

Next Page: An interoperable Web services registry and repository.