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IBM Rolls Out WebSphere 5.0 For E-Business On-Demand

Upgrade adds Web services and autonomic computing features.

IBM on Monday unveiled version 5.0 of its WebSphere Application Server as the newest step in its campaign to deliver on-demand E-business applications and Web services.

"WebSphere Application Server 5.0 is really the core platform for delivering E-business on-demand," says Joe Anthony, director of technical marketing for WebSphere. "Companies need a highly adaptive environment that responds to changing conditions so they can repurpose existing resources and quickly leverage external resources."

Scheduled to ship Tuesday, WebSphere 5.0 includes a host of new features in Web services and autonomic computing, two areas on which IBM is loudly beating the drum.

Web-service features include support for Web Services Invocation Framework, an IBM technology for deploying Web services across a range of network and transport protocols, including HTTP, AOL Instant Messenger, Java Messaging Service, and MQSeries. It also includes the Axis 3.0 Soap parser to boost Web-service requests by a factor of three to four.

WebSphere supports two industrial-strength Java application standards for better integration between Web services and Java 2 Enterprise Edition environments: J2EE 1.3 and J2EE 1.4. Although the latter standard hasn't been released, IBM terms WebSphere as J2EE 1.4-compliant, because it supports more than half of the new standard's technologies.

Web service Workflow has also been enhanced, Anthony says. "You can take individual portlets and extend them as services," to tie multiple services together into a coherent business process, he says. For example, a travel agency that now deals with several external partners such as car-rental companies and hotels could develop an application that would bring all those sources into one integrated Web service for its agent employees.

On the autonomic-computing front, WebSphere 5.0 dramatically adds to Web Application Server's hands-off attitude. "You don't overly worry about your body's autonomic nervous system, such as whether your body temperature is the right temperature," Anthony says. "WebSphere has the same kinds of attributes." WebSphere's efforts here aren't aimed at reducing the size of IT shops, he says, but to make sure IT has a chance to spend its time on more sophisticated issues, not on maintenance, setup, and configuration.

A self-protecting feature in WebSphere 5.0 works like a circuit breaker to prevent a single failure from affecting all applications. A denial-of-service attack, for example, can be detected by WebSphere and stopped before it reaches back-end servers.

WebSphere also offers several self-healing tools to analyze patterns that may indicate future problems, logs troubles so IT managers don't have to waste time re-creating the problem, and repairs components without interrupting applications or restarting the server. A self-optimization feature lets customers give priority service to specific clients or customers, and can even be implemented dynamically. For instance, an online book buyer who's already placed several items in a shopping cart can be dynamically switched to a higher level of service.

WebSphere 5.0 will be available for download from IBM on Tuesday. It's priced at $8,000 per processor and runs on Windows, Linux, IBM eServer zSeries and iSeries, AIX, Solaris, and HP-UX.

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