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10/3/2006
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IBM Broadens SOA Offerings

New software and service offerings leverage the company's recent acquisitions.

IBM on Tuesday expanded its lineup of software and services for building and managing service-oriented architecture systems, debuting a new Web services registry and repository product and industry-specific Web services for health care, insurance, and retail customers. Some of the new products and services leverage IBM's recent acquisitions of Webify Solutions, BuildForge, and Bowstreet.

The announcements are part of the $1 billion IBM is investing in SOA initiatives this year, Steve Mills, IBM senior VP and software group executive, said in a teleconference. IBM currently has nearly 3,000 customers at some stage of deploying SOA systems, he said.

The new and enhanced products and 11 new services are targeted toward preparing IT infrastructures for SOA, using business process management to exploit SOA benefits, improving SOA governance, and building industry-specific Web services.

The new WebSphere Registry and Repository is designed to let businesses manage Web services and shared business processes. IBM says it will promote the reuse of services by allowing users to publish and find Web services and related metadata through SOA development and deployment stages. The product incorporates technology from IBM's Rational development toolset and from BuildForge, which IBM acquired in May.

Integrating business process management with an SOA registry is an intriguing idea, says Tracy LeGrand, chief architect and VP of technology, strategy, and architecture at American Express spin-off Ameriprise Financial, a financial planning, banking, and brokerage services firm. The company's customer management, asset management, and money transfer SOA systems are based on IBM's WebSphere MQ and WebSphere Business Integration software. Reuse of customer service components alone has saved the company about $2 million, he says, and improved time-to-market for developing new customer services.

IBM also debuted a new release of WebSphere Business Modeler with features for visualizing business processes to help identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies before they impact system performance. A new release of WebSphere Process Server provides new capabilities for aligning business workflows with human activities such as task approvals and delegation.

Technology acquired through IBM's August buyout of Webify forms the core of the new WebSphere Business Services Fabric system for building industry-specific Web services. The system provides prebuilt SOA components and incorporates a range of industry standards such as HIPAA, HL7, and ACORD. Such standards are important for companies like Ameriprise that are trying to integrate Web services. "You need the ability to speak a common language within the industry," says LeGrand.

IBM also announced new services for assessing security needs for SOA-based systems. Altogether the vendor announced four new products, 23 upgraded products, and 11 services.

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