IBM Beefs Up WebSphere App Server Platform

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IBM Corp. Wednesday announced a new version of its WebSphere application server platform, citing enhancements such as high-availability, new capabilities for building service oriented architectures (SOA), and better resource utilization and improvements to the environment that could improve overall efficiency by up to 75 percent, the company said.

IBM Corp. Wednesday announced a new version of its WebSphere application server platform, citing enhancements such as high-availability, new capabilities for building service oriented architectures (SOA), and better resource utilization and improvements to the environment that could improve overall efficiency by up to 75 percent, the company said.

WebSphere 6.0 features new autonomic features to detect system problems automatically 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, IBM's director of WebSphere software. He 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 we've focused on delivering a high-availability manager directly to the application server itself," said Sutor. "We've added a lot of smarts to the app server infrastructure. Like we've 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. The new version supports the Web Services Interoperability Organization's Basic Profile 1.1, complies with J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) 1.4 and supports the WS-Security and WS-Transactions specifications. It also features a Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) 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.

"We're 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," he said.

In addition, Sutor said IBM is using its Cloudscape database, also known as Derby, under the covers to power this capability.

In addition, IBM has sped up the SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) parser in WebSphere "so Web services processing will be faster," Sutor said. "This is good for ISVs. This was an ISV requirement to improve the user experience."

The new version, which had gone by the codename Vela, also features a new transport channel service that enables the application server to deal with all sorts of different protocols, Sutor said.

"An application server lives and dies by how well it talks to the rest of the universe. ... This is a re-architecture of how we deal with all these types of protocols, all these connections. And we have doubled the number of connections you can have to a given application server."

For developers, IBM has added a new framework featuring wizards to reduce the tedious parts of application development that are often hand coded. "This significantly reduces the complexity of a developer's job," Sutor said.

Moreover, IBM rebranded two of its core WebSphere development tools. IBM WebSphere Studio Site Developer and WebSphere Studio Application Developer will be re-branded as IBM Rational Web Developer for WebSphere Software and Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software, respectively, when they become available later this year.

IBM also announced WebSphere Application Server Express Version 6.

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