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WebSphere to Expand to v5.x

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IBM reaffirmed its position in the IT universe with an unexpected announcement Wednesday that it would update its WebSphere platform from version 4.1 to version 5.

During the opening keynote of the IBM Developer Works Live show, John Swainson, a general manager for the company”s Application and Integration Middleware Division said IBM is currently working on its popular application software solution as well as a companion set of tools. The complete rollout is expected to take place in the third quarter of 2002.

IBM reaffirmed its position in the IT universe with an unexpected announcement Wednesday that it would update its WebSphere platform from version 4.1 to version 5.

“We are not here just to talk about the new bells and whistles; we are here to tell you that our solutions can help reduce your cost of integration. When we talk about integration we talk about a holistic environment,” said Swainson.

New in this version of WebSphere will be support for Web services in the form of XML, SOAP, and UDDI, and open standards like Linux embedded in the code.

The new platform is also taking advantage of Java Messaging Service (JMS) and EJB 2.0 Message Beans. IBM said these additions will help simplify the transition from legacy systems to current platforms. The company is also folding in Java Management Extensions (JMX), which is a standard way of managing the J2EE environment to enable WebSphere data to Tivoli and third-party software.

WebSphere 5 will also ship with an embedded version of IBM Tivoli Access Manager (formerly Tivoli Policy Director). The company said this is designed for enterprises that prefer to use alternate authentication security solutions. Swainson also said IBM is updating its WebSphere Event Broker to version 2.1 and Business integration to version 4.1.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based industry giant is in San Francisco for its IBM Developer Works Live show. The purpose of this conference is to encourage developers to create the next “killer app” using Big Blue”s products. In fact, the show highlights three separate IBM platforms: WebSphere, Lotus, and Tivoli. Some 4,000 developers from 42 countries are expected to attend.

The other main theme of the show has been “integration.”

IBM said its stats show some 40 percent of IT budgets are currently being spent on integrating legacy systems. The upgrade shouldn”t too difficult for the company considering most of the oldest systems in server rooms today belong to either IBM or a company acquired by them.

“Its not what is being purchased this year, it”s about decades of systems that were purchased before,” said IBM vice president Steven Mills. “Beyond that customers are telling us they need to make it all work together and they need a system to bring it all together.”

IBM is addressing this mostly with WebSphere 5. For example, the company said a client could use WebSphere to plug an internal portal into a customer relationship management application and link to an ERP system.

Even before the show officially launched, this has been a great week for Big Blue. Gartner reported Tuesday that IBM surpassed Oracle in the database arena. An IDC report earlier this month said IBM had passed BEA in software.

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