IBM Overhauls Web-based Tools

IBM tightly integrates Websphere and Visual Age Java development tool to create an environment for E-Commerce which supports such open standards as EJB's, XML, Java Servlets, and Java Server Pages

IBM Corp. made a move this week to shore up what some observers see as its lead in the Web-based tools market, announcing it has tightly integrated its Websphere application servers with its Java-based development tools.

By stitching together for the first time its 3.0 versions of Websphere application servers, Performance Pack and Websphere Studio, and VisualAge for Java tools, corporate and third party developers supposedly do not have to leave this environment to develop, deploy, and manage exploitive Web-based applications for e-commerce, officials said.

"Users are buying tools in conjunction with run times instead of buying them separately because it is easier to use and support. They don't have to worry about different versions and releases matching up among different tools and server providers," said Joe Damassa, IBM's vice president of application development and marketing.

"This kind of integration gives them a more productive environment," Damassa added.

One of the key points of integration is the tight coupling of the Websphere run-time environment with the VisualAge development environment, something IBM officials claim none of its competitors has yet to accomplish with their respective tools and server offerings.

"If you buy VisualAge for Java and want to build, test, debug and deploy an application, you know that application will run on a Websphere server because there are a set of run-time APIs inside VisualAge," Damassa said. "This could be a big costs savings compared to other environments that have the runtime infrastructure separate."

The new versions of Websphere and VisualAge for Java ascribe to a number of open standards, according to company officials, including XML, Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), Java Servlets, and Java Server Pages. This is central to the product's ability to more easily tie together a range of IT-based systems, such as existing applications built for a variety of different operating systems.

New in Version of 3.0 of the Standard Edition of Websphere Application Server is an improved deployment environment and set of application services for managing e-business applications. IT shops can now run multiple applications on the same system using different Java Virtual Machines.

The 3.0 version of the Advanced Edition has full support for the EJB programming model including application-level security. The new version also has the IBM SecureWay Directory, which features LDAP support, and Advanced XML support for easier exchange of information among different Web sites.

The Websphere Performance Pack sports a new caching technology to make Web sites more bullet proof from crashing during heavy traffic, as well as a number of improvements to its systems management and deployment capabilities, officials said.

VisualAge for Java 3.0 contains a new Stored Procedure Builder for DB/2, which helps the product push data faster, as well as improved support for SQL J. The product also has the latest Java 2 early-adopters environment, which allows developers to build applications that more fully exploit the Java 2 platform.

IBM has improved the new servers management capabilities by adding beefed up administration interfaces to better mange large workloads across environments, as well as introducing a better security model for end-to-end transaction security, according to Paraic Sweeney, marketing vice president for IBM's Websphere server series.

"On the Web content side we are introducing site analysis so users can better understand what sort of throughput and usage patterns are taking place so they can better tune their existing applications and overall site structure," Sweeney said.

IBM has also improved the Websphere Studio's file repository system for more efficient team development projects and site creation management. Company officials said they are treating Web site development projects more like enterprise development projects because the former are becoming much larger in scope making it difficult to track various assets and do version control.

"In terms of scalability we are providing support for both JSP server-based workloads and EJB workloads across multiple processors, multiple JVMs. This allows those environments to better scale and take advantage of bigger boxes that are supporting bigger workloads," said Sweeney.

IBM officials yesterday said that Websphere will serve as the foundation for its Net.Commerce and Payment Suite. They said that future versions of these products will be renamed under the Websphere brand.

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